At the University Hospitals of Heidelberg (1970-1988) and Homburg/Saar (1988-1990), 182 patients with vulvar carcinoma were treated. 51 patients had a recurrence of vulvar carcinoma and 21 patients showed a persistence of this tumour. 19 women had a second recurrence of vulvar disease. In these cases, therapy ranged from local surgery to exenteration, depending on the site and tumour extension. 18 patients underwent successful reconstructive surgery. Prognosis was better in cases with local recurrence in comparison to distant sites of metastatic progression (i.e. inguinal nodes or disseminated disease) (p less than 0.001). The five-year survival (after diagnosis of recurrent disease) for patients with early onset of recurrence (less than 20 months after initial therapy) was 28% compared to 68% for patients with late onset of recurrent disease (p less than 0.01).