PURPOSE An overview is presented of reports published since 1980, in which postoperative adjuvant chemotherapy is compared with surgery alone for patients with gastric cancer. A MEDLINE literature review yielded 123 reports, 14 of which were relevant randomized trials; data from 11 of these trials were (or became) available for analysis of crude mortality odds. These 11 trials included 2,096 patients. METHODS Odds ratios were calculated by comparing the adjuvant treatment arm with the observation-only arm. Those odds ratios that could be considered homogeneous yielded an estimated common odds ratio of 0.88 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.78 to 1.08), which was slightly, but far from significantly, in support of adjuvant treatment. RESULTS The results confirm the common opinion that the adjuvant chemotherapy regimens prescribed in these trials, although effective in phase II studies, do not improve survival. Furthermore they indicate that postoperative chemotherapy in general offers no additional survival benefit for patients with curatively resected gastric cancer. CONCLUSION In conclusion, at present, postoperative chemotherapy cannot be considered as standard adjuvant treatment. New trials of adjuvant therapy for gastric cancer must include a no-treatment control arm.