Intrinsic insular tumors are frequently excluded from surgical treatment. The authors propose a more extensive approach to these lesions based on the results of this prospective series. From September 1993 to January 1995, 30 patients (18 males and 12 females; mean age 42 years) harboring benign (15 patients) or malignant (15 patients) tumors involving the insula underwent surgical treatment. The dominant and nondominant hemispheres were both affected in 15 cases. Two groups were defined on the basis of preoperative magnetic resonance (MR) imaging: 14 lesions were restricted to the insula and the corresponding opercula; the other 16 lesions also involved other mesocortical and/or allocortical areas. Most patients displayed only mild preoperative symptoms. The median score according to the Karnofsky performance scale was 90. Microsurgical removal was achieved via a transsylvian approach in nine cases and via a frontal and/or temporal approach in 21 cases. According to early postoperative MR imaging, complete tumor removal (100%) was seen in five patients, nearly complete (> 80%) in 21, and incomplete resection (50%-80%) in four patients. There was no operative mortality; 19 patients (63%) experienced immediate postoperative morbidity, including reduced performance. After a mean follow-up review of 8.5 months two of 21 patients suffered permanent deficits, accounting for an overall operative morbidity of 10%. At the mean time of review, three patients with Grade IV tumors had died of tumor recurrence. The authors conclude that low-grade intrinsic insular tumors, as well as Grade III tumors, can be removed with favorable results in the majority of patients. Surgery to excise glioblastomas should only be considered for patients with good preoperative performance and young age.