OBJECTIVE: The incidence of gastric cancer has been decreasing in the last decades. Nevertheless, gastric cancer is still a substantial health problem in Iceland. The aim of this study was to analyze the survival of patients with gastric cancer operated on for cure. MATERIAL AND METHODS: We reviewed all medical files for above-mentioned patients, operated on at the National University Hospital in Reykjavik and the Quarter District Hospital of Akureyri during 1980-1995. The study was divided into three periods: 1980-1985, 1986-1990 and 1991-1995. The five-year survival for each study period and for the whole group was evaluated. RESULTS: The study group included 193 patients between the ages of 21-96 (median 71). The five-year survival for the whole group was 28% (26% 1980-1985, 22% 1986-1990, 35% 1991-1995). Despite longer survival during the last period, it was not statistically significant (p = 0.16). The major survival factor of gastric cancer was the stage of the disease at diagnosis. A greater number of patients were at stage IA during 1991-1995. The complication rate was rather high or 31% and the hospital mortality was 6.7%. CONCLUSION: The survival of patients with gastric cancer operated on for cure was low in Iceland but comparable to that in other countries. During the last years, the survival has been rising, and fortunately, more were diagnosed at a lower stage of the disease. These operations have a considerable risk and the hospital mortality was substantial.