BACKGROUND: Tumours of the heart are rare, but of great clinical interest as the majority are benign and amenable to radical excision. MATERIAL AND METHODS: We report on 30 patients with cardiac tumours resected at the National Hospital, Oslo, Norway from 1990 to 1999. Data were obtained from patient files. RESULTS: 27 patients had benign tumours, 25 of which were myxomas predominantly located in the left atrium. One patient had a primary malignant tumour (rhabdomyosarcoma) and two had secondary malignant tumours (metastases from malignant tumours). All patients were alive at follow-up four to ten years after operation. INTERPRETATION: Patient with benign tumours are cured by surgery, whereas in malignant primary tumours the surgery will most often be palliative. Surgery for cardiac metastases may be indicated in selected symptomatic patients.