BACKGROUND: The physical results after a pylorus-preserving gastrectomy (PPG) for early gastric cancer were evluated. METHODS: From August 1996 to March 1998, sixteen (16) patients underwent a PPG, and 17 patients underwent a conventional distal gastrectomy with Billroth I anastomosis (DG). The patients undergoing the PPG and theDG procedures were assessed for 1 year following their surgical procedure. Changes in body weight, food intake volume, and abdominal symptoms, which were determined from questionaires, gastric-emptying tests using the acetaminophen method, and gastroscopic findings, were compared between the two groups. RESULTS: There were no significant differences in the body weight ratio and the amount of food taken in a meal between the two groups. Patients who had a PPG had fewer postoperative abdominal symptoms than those who underwent a DG. After a DG, emptying was much more rapid. Gastroscopy revealed that the mucosa of the stomach remnant after a PPG was less abnormal than it was after a DG, but food stasis was more frequent after a PPG. CONCLUSION: A PPG is a more physiological operation than a conventional DG and should be used in carefully selected patient with early gastric cancer to improve their quality of life.