Seventy-seven patients presenting with medulloblastoma between 1958 and 1986 were treated at Stanford University Medical Center and studied retrospectively. Multimodality therapy utilized surgical extirpation followed by megavoltage irradiation. In 15 cases chemotherapy was used as adjunctive treatment. The 10- and 15-year actuarial survival rates were both 41% with an 18-year maximum follow-up period (median 4.75 years). There were no treatment failures after 8 years of tumor-free survival. Gross total removal of tumor was achieved in 22 patients (32%); the surgical mortality rate was 3.9%. No significant difference was noted in the incidence of metastatic disease between shunted and nonshunted patients. The classical form of medulloblastoma was present in 67% of cases while the desmoplastic subtype was found in 16%. Survival rates were best for patients presenting after 1970, for those with desmoplastic tumors, and for patients receiving high-dose irradiation (greater than or equal to 5000 cGy) to the posterior fossa. Although early data on freedom from relapse suggested a possible beneficial effect from chemotherapy, long-term follow-up results showed no advantage from this modality of treatment. The patterns of relapse and survival were examined; 64% of relapses occurred within the central nervous system, and Collins' rule was applicable in 83% of cases beyond the period of risk. Although patients treated for recurrent disease could be palliated, none were long-term survivors. The study data indicate that freedom from relapse beyond 8 years from diagnosis can be considered as a cure in this disease. Long-term follow-up monitoring is essential to determine efficacy of treatment and to assess survival patterns accurately.