To assess the patterns of lymphatic spread in cervical carcinoma, radical hysterectomy with systematic lymphadenectomy was performed in 66 patients FIGO stage IB-IIA <4 cm, and 159 patients stage IB-IIA >4 cm to stage IV. The latter patients were treated with neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NACT). Parametria were evaluated by the giant section technique in 109 patients. In 40 of these, the superficial and deep layers of the vesicouterine ligament, the sacrouterine ligament, and the distal part of the cardinal ligament were separately evaluated. The median number of nodes removed was 48 pelvic (range 20-107) and 22 aortic (range 7-64). Positive nodes were found in 14 (21%) stage IB-IIA <4 cm and in 38 (23%) NACT-treated patients, all having pelvic node metastasis. Aortic nodes were involved in 2 (3%) and 5 (3%) patients, respectively. Solitary metastases were found in the superficial obturator (21% of stage IB-IIA <4 cm and 31% of NACT-treated positive node patients, respectively), external iliac (7 and 3%, respectively), and common iliac nodes (7 and 3%, respectively). Parametrial nodes were found in 59% of giant sections (8% metastatic). The superficial and deep layers of the vesicouterine ligament, the uterosacral ligament, and the distal part of the lateral parametrium revealed the presence of nodes in 33% (no metastatic nodes), 26% (3% metastatic), 5% (no metastatic nodes), and 70% (5% metastatic) of patients, respectively. Overall, parametrial nodes were positive in 12% of stage IB-IIA <4 cm and 7% of NACT-treated patients. The diameter of node metastasis was <10 mm in more than 80% of positive nodes. In conclusion, parametrial nodes were mainly located in the cardinal and vesicouterine ligaments, both being a potential site of metastasis. The superficial obturator, external iliac, common iliac, paracaval, intercavoaortic, and paraaortic nodes were the groups more frequently involved. These data may be useful for tailoring radical hysterectomy and lymphadenectomy according to the primary tumor and the surgeon's intent.