The surgical removal of petroclival meningiomas has historically been associated with a high incidence of morbidity and mortality. The 109 consecutive patients included in the present retrospective study represent a combined series of tumors operated on by the four authors during a period from 1980 to 1992. The series is composed of 40 men and 69 women ranging in age from 25 to 75 years (mean 51 years). Surgical approaches to tumors in this series included simple retromastoid (60 cases), combined supra- and infratentorial petrosal (22), transtemporal (primary transsigmoid retrolabyrinthine, translabyrinthine, or transcochlear (12), subtemporal (11), and frontotemporal transcavernous (eight). Gross-total removal was achieved in 75 patients (69%). Recurrence or progression of disease occurred in 14 patients (13%) over a 6.1-year mean follow-up period, and it was found within the cavernous sinus in 12 of these cases. Four recurrent cases demonstrated histological compatibility with malignant meningioma. Perioperative death occurred in four patients, and there were 56 significant complications in 35 other patients. Review of this series, with the attendant complications, has facilitated the authors' decision-making when considering the risk of gross-total removal in selected patients with asymptomatic cavernous sinus invasion or tumor adherent to the brainstem.