This retrospective analysis was performed to examine the outcome of patients with spinal cord ependymomas treated with surgery and postoperative radiation therapy between 1982 and 1998. There were 10 male and 5 female patients, ranging from 16 to 74 years of age with a median age of 38 years. Surgery was gross total resection in 2 patients, subtotal resection in 10, biopsy in 3. All patients received radiation therapy with a total dose of 40-56 Gy. The 5 and 10 year overall survival rates were 83.3 and 83.3%, respectively. Twelve patients are still alive at a median follow-up period of 70 months. Of the 15 patients, 6 developed recurrent disease on follow-up. The median time to recurrence was 45 months (range: 24-80 months). Local failure within the initial irradiated volume occurred in 3 out of 6 patients who received less than 45 Gy and 2 out of 8 patients treated with more than 45 Gy. Four out of the six failures were salvaged with additional treatment. Re-irradiation was used as a part of salvage or sole treatment in 3 cases. The patient who was salvaged with radiation therapy only died of disease progression 41 months following recurrence and the other two who received a combination of surgery, radiotherapy or chemotherapy were still alive 57 and 30 months following relapse. The present study shows that surgery and post-operative radiation treatment for spinal ependymoma patients resulted in high survival rates. Patients with residual disease after surgery should be treated with radiation therapy with a dose of more than 45 Gy. Re-irradiation may be the treatment of choice for recurrent patients having less than complete resection or no surgery.