In a series of 1623 men with a follow-up of 5 +/- 3 years (range 1-13) after anatomic RRP for clinically localized prostate cancer, 17% (276/1623) have shown recurrence. A detectable PSA was the only evidence of recurrence in 7.9%, whereas 2.5% have recurred locally and 5.4% have developed distant metastases. The overall actuarial progression-free rate for these men at 10 years was 68%. Actuarial rates at 10 years were 18% for development of an isolated PSA recurrence, 8% for local recurrence, and 9% for distant recurrence. The actuarial likelihood of a postoperative recurrence increased with increasing clinical stage, Gleason score, preoperative PSA level, and pathologic stage. Although not shown in our previous report, the actuarial rate of recurrence of tumors with a Gleason score of 7 was statistically different from that of tumors of higher Gleason score (8-10). As well, men with preoperative PSA levels of 10.1 to 20 ng/mL experienced recurrence at a significantly lower rate than did men with preoperative PSA levels greater than 20 ng/mL. By using a combination of Gleason score, pathologic stage, and surgical margin status, we demonstrated that the presence of a positive surgical margin did not dramatically affect recurrence in tumors of Gleason scores 2 to 6 with capsular penetration. Surgical margin status was important in high-grade tumors with capsular penetration. In fact, tumors with capsular penetration, Gleason score of at least 7, and a positive surgical margin behaved similarly to tumors with invasion of the seminal vesicles. Preservation of potency did not adversely influence cancer control. The Gleason score, presence or absence of seminal vesicle or lymph node involvement, and the timing of PSA recurrence are all important variables in predicting eventual local versus distant failure associated with an isolated rise in serum PSA. Overall actuarial cause-specific survival at 5 and 10 years was 99% and 93%. Although there was no difference in survival among men grouped by TNM stage or preoperative PSA, advancing histologic grade and pathologic stage did have an effect on actuarial cause-specific survival. Men undergoing RRP for clinically localized prostate cancer showed a 16% actuarial rate of development of metastatic disease at 10 years. This is considerably better than conservative therapy and justifies RRP as the treatment of choice for men with clinically localized disease who are otherwise healthy and have a greater than 10-year life expectancy.