The postoperative survival time of 170 nonrandomized patients treated for cerebral oligodendrogliomas in Norway from 1953 to 1977 was studied. Survival times were significantly prolonged if postoperative irradiation was performed in addition to surgery (median survival time 26.5 vs. 38 months, p = 0.039). In the group without postoperative radiotherapy, the 5-year rate of survival was 27% compared with 36% in the irradiated patients. The respective survival rates after 8 years were 14% versus 17%; thus, there was little effect on long-term survival. Irradiation appears not to be of benefit after "total" removal. Patients with partly resected lesions appeared to benefit from postoperative radiotherapy; the median survival period after subtotal tumor resection was 37 months with and 26 months without radiotherapy (p = 0.0089). The findings also indicate that irradiation doses between 40 and 50 Gy were as effective as doses between 50 and 60 Gy in increasing the patients' probability of surviving 5 years after subtotal tumor resection. Since the risk of radiation necrosis is proportional to the dose applied, the lower dose is recommended. These conclusions were also valid when adjustments were made for prognostically significant histological and clinical features.