Splenectomy for massive splenomegaly is frequently performed for hematologic disorders for diagnostic and therapeutic indications. The role of splenectomy is complex and controversial. The aims of our retrospective study were to focus on postoperative complications and advantages of splenectomy for massive splenomegaly. Thirty six patients with splenomegaly weighing 1000 g or more, underwent splenectomy at Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Lyon Sud, from January 1st, 1982, to December 31, 1995. Thirty-one (85%) of these patients had hematologic malignancy and more than half of them were older than sixty years. The main indications for splenectomy were hypersplenism (18 patients) and diagnosis (14). Preliminary ligation of the splenic artery was performed in 25 patients (42%). All patients had drainage. The mortality and morbidity rates were 5.5% and 20%, respectively. No major septic or thromboembolic complications occurred. There was only one major bleeding complication. The advantages of splenectomy included histopathological diagnosis in 13 of 14 patients with splenomegaly of unknown origin, permanent pain relief in all cases, and immediate correction of hematological cytopenia in 27 cases (75%). We conclude that the large weight of the spleen does not constitute a contraindication to splenectomy, but indications must be carefully selected, and the operative and perioperative management, must be appropriate.