The success of medical and surgical treatment for hemifacial spasm, and involuntary paroxysmal unilateral contraction of the facial muscles, has been mixed. Although microvascular decompression has the greatest reported success, symptom recurrence affects many patients in whom treatment was initially successful. In this study, we report the results of 34 patients who underwent microvascular decompression of the facial nerve from 1976 to 1989 as well as review the literature concerning the incidence and timing of recurrence in more than 600 patients who underwent microvascular decompression. In this series, 94% of 34 patients had continuous relief of spasm after surgical treatment (mean duration, > 6 yr). Of those patients whose spasms were completely initially relieved, 10.3% developed some degree of recurrent spasm; however, no patient developed a recurrence after 24 months without spasm. Our review of the literature discloses that 86% of all recurrences occurred within 2 years of surgery. Patients who have no recurrence of symptoms 2 years after surgical treatment have only a 1% chance of developing recurrent hemifacial spasm. We also comment on possible causes of treatment failure and recurrence of hemifacial spasm after surgical treatment.