Between May 1977 and August 1989, 357 patients (199 male, 158 female; median age 40 years) with highly anaplastic astrocytomas other than glioblastoma multiforme were treated according to any of several protocols used in studies by the University of California, San Francisco, and the Northern California Oncology Group. The data evaluated were age, Karnofsky Performance Score, survival, time to tumor progression, therapy, and the effect of treatment at the time of progression. The records of 219 patients were taken from the University of California database, and those of the other 138 were taken from the Northern California Oncology Group computer files. Their median Karnofsky Performance Score was 90% (range 40-100%), the overall median survival was projected as 170.9 weeks, and the median time to first tumor progression was 127.3 weeks. The median survival time measured after the first progression was 41.3 weeks. Age and Karnofsky Performance Score had a significant influence on survival and on time to the first tumor progression, whereas extent of surgery and the use of interstitial brachytherapy in the initial therapy did not. We conclude that these patients can expect a median survival of over 3 years, that young age and high Karnofsky Performance Score have a positive influence on survival, and that salvage therapies can extend survival after the onset of tumor progression for nearly a year. Although it did not lengthen survival when used in initial therapy, interstitial brachytherapy used at the time of tumor progression was associated with increased survival.