A review was done of 120 cases of malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumor (MPNST) seen during a 71-year period. Of the 120 patients, 52 were males and 68 were females with a mean age at diagnosis of 35.3 years; 12 patients were younger than 20 years. The series included 62 (52%) patients with neurofibromatosis, 13 (11%) with postradiation sarcomas, and 19 (16%) with metaplastic foci. The incidence of MPNST arising in neurofibromatosis was 4.6% in the current series and 0.001% in the general clinic population. Tumors greater than 5 cm and the presence of neurofibromatosis adversely affected the prognosis (P less than 0.05). When both features were present, survival was greatly decreased. Patients with tumor in the extremities did better than those with head or neck lesions. Metaplastic foci or previous radiation at the tumor site did not alter the prognosis. Each tumor was graded 1 to 4 on the basis of cellularity, pleomorphism, mitotic index, and necrosis. No significant correlation was noted between survival and either grade or mitotic rate. Survival was improved when total rather than subtotal resection was done. This was most marked in patients with a small lesion, which may reflect the difficulty in adequately excising large tumors. Adjuvant radiation or chemotherapy did not appear to affect survival. The MPNST is an aggressive uncommon neoplasm, and large tumor size, the presence of neurofibromatosis, and total resection are the most important prognostic indicators.