Data on 164 patients treated at the Cleveland Clinic with gastric adenocarcinoma during the ten year period 1970 to 1980 was analyzed. Fiberoptic esophagogastroduodenoscopy was introduced as a routine diagnostic modality during this time and yielded a positive tissue diagnosis in 86% of patients in this series. Laparotomy was performed on 150 patients; 49 patients (30%) were biopsied only, 19 (12%) were bypassed for palliation, and 82 (58%) underwent gastrectomy. Of the latter group, only 45 patients (27%) were resected for cure. The overall operative mortality rate was 6%. All patients were staged according to the International TNM classification (stage I-10%, II-24%, III-12%, and IV-53%). Survival at 5 years was influenced by tumor location and extent of gastric resection but was most significantly related to stage of disease at operation (stage I-65%, II-22%, III-5%, and IV-0%; p < 0.0001) and to the status of regional nodes (positive-17%, negative-56%; p < 0.005). Despite the routine use of fiberoptic endoscopy, the majority of gastric cancers were advanced at diagnosis and their prognosis remains discouraging. Improvement of results will require a more aggressive approach to the endoscopic investigation of upper gastrointestinal symptoms and earlier surgical intervention.