From a retrospective analysis of 180 surgical interventions for soft tissue sarcoma of the limbs and trunk, it was concluded that complete excision of the tumour can usually be achieved without sacrifice of major artery, vein, nerve or bone. In this series five major arteries were resected but only one required reconstruction. None of six resected major veins or seven resected nerves were reconstructed. Bone resection in the limb required plating in only two of eleven patients who had limb-sparing resection (there were nine amputations). Both in the limbs and the thorax, resection of bone often involved such a wide excision of the superficial soft tissues as to require a flap repair: four were used in the limbs and three in five chest wall resections. In the majority of operations (140/180) primary wound closure was possible. After 15 procedures for tumour predominantly involving the superficial tissues, split skin grafts were used. These were generally successful (13/15), even occasionally when high-dose radiotherapy had been given. In 16 cases earlier radiotherapy influenced the decision to use a flap repair. A total of 18 flap repairs were performed. In various situations Mersiline mesh (Ethicon, Ltd., UK), Silastic implants and omental swings were used. Wound breakdown in heavily irradiated tissues presented a major challenge for reconstruction. Although major reconstruction was required in only 27 operations (15 per cent), a thorough knowledge of the available methods of reconstruction and repair is essential to allow uninhibited resection with an optimal aesthetic and functional result.