During the period from 1977 to August 1992, 100 intramedullary tumors in 94 patients were operated on in the Department of Neurosurgery at the Nordstadt Hospital in Hannover, Germany. Of these, 45% presented with associated syringes. A syrinx was more likely to be found above (49%) than below (11%) the tumor level. In 40%, a syrinx could be identified above and below the tumor level. Ependymomas and hemangioblastomas were the most common tumor types to be associated with syringes. Astrocytomas tended to demonstrate syringes less often. Regardless of histology, the higher the spinal level, the more likely a syrinx was encountered. In general, the presence of an associated syrinx favored the resectability of the tumor, because it indicated a displacing rather than an infiltrating tumor. Patients with syringomyelia tended to recover from surgery sooner. However, surgical results and long-term prognosis were not influenced significantly by an associated syrinx. The most important factor determining long-term outcome was the preoperative level of neurological function. We propose that factors independent of the tumor, disturbances of cerebrospinal fluid and extracellular fluid flow in particular, have major roles in the pathogenesis of syrinx formation associated with intramedullary tumors.