Cartilage and bone-forming tumors of the mediastinum are extremely rare neoplasms with very few cases having been reported in the literature. We studied six cases of primary malignant cartilaginous tumors presenting as extraskeletal soft tissue masses in the posterior mediastinum. The patients were five women and one man aged 11 to 63 years (median, 31 years). Histologically, the lesions showed a spectrum of features that ranged from mesenchymal chondrosarcoma, to extraskeletal myxoid chondrosarcoma, to moderately well to poorly differentiated chondrosarcoma. In all cases, the lesions presented as well-circumscribed tumor masses centered in the soft tissues in the posterior mediastinum without radiographic evidence of origin from bone. Because of their relatively small size, good circumscription, focal areas of calcification, and posterior mediastinal location, the preoperative clinical diagnoses included benign neurogenic tumor and neuroblastoma. All of the lesions were treated by complete surgical excision, followed in two cases by postoperative radiation therapy. Clinical follow-up was available in five cases: two patients with mesenchymal chondrosarcoma presented with local recurrence after 3 and 7 years, one developed metastases to the sacrum 8 years after initial diagnosis and died, and one was alive and well without evidence of disease after 6 years. The patient with myxoid chondrosarcoma of the posterior mediastinum developed bilateral pulmonary metastases 10 months after surgery and has been lost to follow-up since. Our findings reinforce previous observations on the occurrence of extraskeletal cartilaginous tumors in the mediastinum and indicate that these tumors can show a propensity for local aggressive behavior with high recurrence rate and a definite potential for distant metastases. Such tumors should be considered in the differential diagnosis of malignant neoplasms presenting as a soft tissue mass in the posterior mediastinum.