Long-term clinical outcome was analysed in a series of 337 patients with early gastric cancer (EGC) at a median follow-up of 8 years. Tumours were classified according to the macroscopic and microscopic criteria proposed by the Japanese society of gastroenterological endoscopy (JSGE) and Lauren, respectively. Type of penetration (PEN) was classified according to Kodama. Overall survival rate was 92% at 5 years and 88% at 8 years and was significantly related to depth, type of penetration, lymph node status and tumour size. A significantly lower 5-year survival (p<0.05) was observed for patients with lymph node metastases and PEN A type EGC (55%) or for those with node-positive tumours and submucosal wall penetration (58%) than for the other pathologic subgroups. Therefore, these two subgroups should be considered as advanced gastric cancer patients from the prognostic point of view. Moreover, multivariate analysis by Cox regression model showed the degree of lymph node involvement and Kodama's type PEN A as the only independent prognostic factors.