BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: The use of several approaches, involving different cerebellopontine angles, has enabled vestibular schwannoma removal to be tailored to each patient's pathology and physiological status. The retrosigmoid approach provides simple and direct access to cerebello-pontine angle lesions. SUBJECTS AND METHODS: We retrospectively assessed outcomes in 35 consecutive patients who underwent vestibular schwannoma removal via the retrosigmoid approach. RESULTS: Of the 35 patients, 12 were men and 23 women; their age was 52.5+/-10.4 years (range, 35-75 years). One tumor was small (< or =1 cm), 18 were medium (1-3 cm), and 16 (45.7%) were large (>3 cm). Symptoms included hearing disturbance (31 patients, 89%), tinnitus (14 patients, 40%), headache (12 patients, 34%), vertigo (11 patients, 31%), and facial palsy (9 patients, 25%). Postoperative complications included facial palsy, intracranial hemorrhage, dysphagia, and disseminated intravascular coagulopathy, with facial palsy remaining permanently. Four patients (11.4%) had tumor regrowth, at a mean of 36.3 months after primary surgery. The mean diameter of regrowing tumors was 20.5+/-4.4 mm (range 14.5-25.0 mm). CONCLUSIONS: The retrosigmoid approach for vestibular schwannoma removal was associated with higher rates of facial palsy and hearing loss. This approach, however, can minimize injury to the lower cranial nerve.