Forty-nine patients with supratentorial low-grade gliomas underwent surgery (biopsy or subtotal resection) and postoperative radiotherapy at the Mayo Clinic between 1976 and 1983. The median, 5-, and 10-year overall survivals for the total group were 6.5 years, 62%, and 14%, respectively. Nine prognostic variables were examined for their possible association with survival, including age, sex, site, size, CT enhancement, histologic type, extent of resection, radiation volume, and radiation dose. Of these variables, only histologic type was significantly associated with survival. The estimated 5-year survival was 100% for the 5 patients with pilocytic astrocytomas, 83% for the 20 patients with oligodendrogliomas or mixed oligo-astrocytomas, and 40% in the 24 patients with ordinary astrocytomas (log rank p = 0.001). Other possible prognostic variables, such as radiation volume or total dose, showed no association with survival. Twenty-seven patients had a documented treatment failure. For the 20 patients in whom the pattern of failure could be determined, all failed within their radiation portals. Eleven patients had additional tissue obtained following suspected disease recurrence. Tumor was found in ten of these patients, and radionecrosis in one.