In a retrospective analysis 385 patients with a histologically defined cranial meningioma were studied to analyze the impact of characteristic factors on morbidity and mortality after modern cranial meningioma surgery. Mortality was 4.2% one month and 7.3% six months after operation. 15.6% of the patients stayed more than one month in the hospital (defined as criteria of operative morbidity). Age, poor preoperative clinical condition (ASA score), intra- and postoperative bleeding and CSF disturbances were significantly associated with a subsequent decrease of quality of life. First symptoms like intracranial hypertension, seizures, aphasia and hemiparesis were correlated with an increase of postoperative Karnowsky index. Postoperative quality of life decreased in patients with optic and other cranial nerve disturbances significantly. Tumour size, location (exception: medial sphenoid wing) and histological diagnosis did not influence surgical outcome. This information may be useful in management decisions regarding asymptomatic meningiomas in elderly and high risk patients.