Partial vertical laryngectomy for recurrent glottic carcinoma was performed in 61 patients according to stringent criteria. The great majority of the recurrent tumours appeared within 2 years of radiotherapy (80%). The mean follow-up after surgery was 79 months. At 5 years 85% of the patients were free of local recurrence. Nine patients (15%) developed a local recurrence; eight of them underwent total laryngectomy; one patient refused the operation and died. Seven patients died of other causes. The actuarial overall survival rate was 88% at 5 years. Post-operative complications were seen in 12 patients (20%); nine of these patients developed airway problems. One patient underwent total laryngectomy for severe aspiration, the others finally were decannulated. The results of this study indicate that partial vertical hemi-laryngectomy for irradiation failures is a safe procedure with good results without undue morbidity.