While developments continue in the surgical management of carpal tunnel syndrome, little emphasis has been placed on the evaluation of a comprehensive non-surgical treatment. In this study, 197 patients (240 hands) presenting for treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome were divided into two groups. Patients in both groups were treated by standard conservative methods, and those in one group were also treated with a program of nerve and tendon gliding exercises. Of those who did not perform the nerve and tendon gliding exercises, 71.2% underwent surgery compared with only 43.0% of patients who did perform them. Patients in the experimental group who did not undergo surgery were interviewed at an average follow-up time of 23 months (range, 14-38 months). Of these 53 patients, 47 (89%) responded to this detailed interview. Of the 47 who responded, 70.2% reported good or excellent results, 19.2% remained symptomatic, and 10.6% were non-compliant. Thus, a significant number of patients who would otherwise have undergone surgery for failure of traditional conservative treatment were spared the surgical morbidity of a carpal tunnel release (p = 0.0001).