Soft tissue sarcomas are exceedingly rare, making up less than 1% of all solid malignancies. In the retroperitoneum, they tend to be large when diagnosed and are a therapeutic challenge to the surgical oncologist. Our experience with 51 patients with retroperitoneal sarcomas operated on during the past 4 years is presented. 37 were primary and 26 presented as recurrent tumors. The group included many different histological subtypes, the majority being high grade tumors. Complete resection was achieved in 84%, necessitating extensive surgery, but was not possible in 8 patients (16%) who underwent partial resection or biopsy only. There was 1 perioperative fatality (2%). 18 (35%) suffered complications, all of which were reversible. The estimated 5-year survival in the complete resection group is 40%, while none of those who underwent partial resection survived more than 2 years. There was significantly better survival in patients with primary, low grade sarcomas which were smaller than 8 cm, compared to those with high-grade, recurrent sarcomas larger than 8 cm. Local recurrence developed in 8 patients of the complete resection group (18%), 2 months to 3 years after surgery. These data show that despite the concept of retroperitoneal sarcomas as being aggressive, invasive tumors with a poor prognosis, the prognosis is not unusually bad. With proper surgical technique, resectability may be high, with improved overall survival.