Trigeminal neurinomas have traditionally been excised through conventional approaches. Because symptomatic tumor recurrence exceeds 50% after conventional procedures, the authors evaluated the use of skull base approaches to achieve complete resection and a lower rate of symptomatic recurrence. Comparisons of skull base with conventional approaches to trigeminal neurinomas have been limited to small series with short-term follow-up periods. The authors reviewed their experiences with conventional (frontotemporal transsylvian, subtemporal-intradural, subtemporal-transtentorial, and suboccipital) and skull base (frontotemporal extradural-intradural, frontoorbitozygomatic, subtemporal anterior petrosal, and presigmoid posterior petrosal) surgical approaches for the excision of trigeminal neurinomas. In this paper they report the results of 15 patients with trigeminal neurinoma who underwent 27 surgical procedures between 1980 and 1990. Seventeen of the procedures used conventional and 10 used skull base approaches. All patients had tumors arising from Meckel's cave and the porus trigeminus either initially or on recurrence. Tumors located in the cavernous sinus recurred most frequently (83%); other tumors that recurred frequently were those located in Meckel's cave and the porus trigeminus (67%), and the posterior fossa (17%). The tumor extended into the anterolateral wall of the cavernous sinus in 38% of patients with cavernous sinus involvement. Tumor exposure and ease of dissection were superior with skull base approaches. Residual or recurrent tumors were found in 65% of patients following conventional approaches compared with 10% of patients following skull base approaches. Using skull base approaches, the surgeon was more accurate (90%) in estimating tumor excision than when using conventional approaches (43%). Perioperative complications were similar with both. The authors discuss the indications, advantages, and limitations of each approach. Based on anatomical considerations, they propose a strategy to best resect these tumors.