We have used the transcervical method of thymectomy in patients with myasthenia gravis and believe that complete thymectomy is accomplished with minimum morbidity. For the past eight years we have used an improved technique for the transcervical approach, employing a specially designed sternal retractor that permits improved visualization of the anterior mediastinum. We have reviewed 65 patients operated on between 1977 and 1986. Patients were assessed using a modified Osserman classification (0 = asymptomatic; 1 = ocular signs and symptoms; 2 = mild generalized weakness; 3 = moderate generalized weakness; 4 = severe generalized weakness, respiratory dysfunction, or both). The mean grade for all patients at the time of thymectomy was 2.7. At most recent follow-up, the mean clinical grade was 0.5. In addition, 85% of patients were free of generalized weakness, 95% had improved by at least one grade, and 86% had improved by two or more grades. Comparing these results with those reported following thymectomy through a sternotomy reveals that the transcervical approach gives equivalent results.