Treatment of acromegaly has long been recognized as necessary to relieve symptoms, halt progression of deformities, and decompress the sella turcica. More recently, treatment strategies have focused on decreasing GH levels to a point at which mortality rates normalize, thereby redefining previous concepts of a cure. No surgical series to date has investigated the long-term effect of treatment on mortality rates. We retrospectively reviewed 254 consecutive patients with acromegaly who underwent transsphenoidal microsurgery of GH-secreting adenomas between 1974-1992. Seventy-six percent of these patients had basal GH levels <5 ng/mL within 30 days of surgery, and 24% had persistent disease. Multivariate analysis revealed that higher stage, grade, and preoperative GH levels were all predictive of persistence (P < 0.01). Long-term follow-up was obtained on 129 of the patients in initial remission. Of these, 9 (7%) had disease recurrence and 120 remained in remission. The incidence of major postoperative complications was 8% (2% permanent diabetes insipidus, 2% cerebrospinal fluid leaks requiring surgery, 2% meningitis, and 2% hypopituitarism), with no mortality. In contrast to the 2.4- to 4.8-fold increased mortality among untreated acromegalics, the mortality rate among patients with posttherapy GH levels <5 ng/mL was equivalent to that of age- and sex-matched controls. Aggressive therapy to normalize GH levels should therefore be instituted at diagnosis.