PURPOSE: Complete release of the transverse carpal ligament(TCL) is accepted as the standard treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome(CTS). However, loss of grip and pinch power are reported in some patients after complete release of the TCL. This study was designed to evaluate the effectiveness of complete versus partial carpal tunnel release by using the inching technique. METHODS: Nineteen patients(a total of 27 hands) who each had a confirmed diagnosis of CTS were selected from September 2002 to February 2003. The cases were divided into three groups(mild, moderate and severe) based on preoperative electrodiagnostic studies. The patients with partial carpal tunnel syndrome were classified into the mild or moderate groups, while patients with complete carpal tunnel syndrome were classified into the moderate or severe groups. Patient oriented data (functional and symptomatic) were collected and electrophysiologic studies were undertaken preoperatively and postoperatively(on the 2nd week, 1st month, 3rd month and 6th month after surgery). RESULTS: In this study, the mild and moderate groups showed both good functional and symptomatic results and improvements in electrophysiologic studies. CONCLUSION: Carpal tunnel syndrome patients classified into mild or moderate groups based on nerve conduction studies, and whose precise compression sites were pinpointed using the inching technique, can be treated by partial carpal tunnel release.