Approximately 50% of patients with Crohn's disease have epithelioid granulomas present in the diseased intestine. Some studies have associated the presence of granulomas with a good prognosis. In this prospective study, 44 patients with Crohn's disease requiring surgery were followed up for five years. Twenty-two patients (50%) had granulomas. Patients with granulomas were younger and had a shorter duration of disease. They also had more extensive disease and a greater degree of peripheral lymphopenia. Follow-up showed a trend toward greater recurrence rate in the patients with granulomas. It seems that patients with aggressive and extensive Crohn's disease are not protected from the development of symptomatic early recurrence by the presence of epithelioid granulomas.