PURPOSE: The choice of surgical strategy for patients with adenocarcinoma of the upper one third of the stomach is controversial. This study was performed to analyze the surgical results of a 11-year experience with these lesions. MATERIALS AND METHODS: From January 1990 to December 2000, 259 patients with upper third gastric cancer underwent proximal gastrectomy (n=74) or total gastrectomy (n=185) through an abdominal approach. Morbidity, mortality, recurrence patterns, and survival were compared between these two groups retrospectively. RESULTS: There were no significant differences in general complication and mortality rates between the two groups. However, the incidences of reflux esophagitis (16.2%) and anastomotic stricture (35.1%) were more common in the proximal gastrectomy group compared with the total gastrectomy group (0.5 and 8.1%). Regarding the main patterns of recurrence, local recurrence was dominant in the proximal gastrectomy group, whereas distant recurrence was dominant in the total gastrectomy group. Five-year overall survival (54.8 versus 47.8%) and survival according to tumor stage were no different between the groups. Multivariate analysis showed that the extent of resection was not an independent prognostic factor. CONCLUSION: The extent of resection for upper third gastric cancer did not appear to affect long-term outcome. However, proximal gastrectomy is associated with an increased risk of reflux esophagitis, anastomotic stricture, and local recurrence.