To assess the long-term prognosis for women with prolactinoma after selective transsphenoidal adenomectomy, we followed 44 patients for 6.2 +/- 1.5 years. Group 1 (28 patients) had microprolactinomas, and Group 2 (16 patients) had macroprolactinomas. After surgery, normal plasma prolactin levels, resumption of menses, and cessation of galactorrhea were observed in 24 Group 1 patients (85 per cent) and 5 Group 2 patients (31 per cent). Hyperprolactinemia recurred in 12 of the 24 Group 1 patients and in 4 of the 5 Group 2 patients after 4 +/- 1.3 and 2.5 +/- 1.6 years of remission, respectively. There was no radiologic evidence of tumor recurrence in any patient, and no relation was found between the occurrence of pregnancy after surgery and the recurrence of hyperprolactinemia. Clinical and biologic features before surgery could not predict the long-term outcome. However, the immediate postoperative level of plasma prolactin was significantly lower in patients in whom normal prolactinemia (6.4 +/- 1.1 ng per milliliter) was maintained than in those who relapsed (11.7 +/- 1.5 ng per milliliter) (P less than 0.02). We conclude that recurrence of hyperprolactinemia after successful surgery is frequent but delayed. The immediate postoperative level of plasma prolactin may be a predictive risk factor.