The outcome of salvage treatment was reviewed in 55 patients relapsing during or after their primary chemotherapy for advanced malignant germ cell tumours. Fifty-two patients had been given cisplatin-based chemotherapy as their primary treatment, whereas three patients had received carboplatin-based chemotherapy. The median time to relapse was 2 months (range: 0-96 months) from discontinuation of the primary treatment. Two patients underwent radical surgery only, and one patient had radiotherapy to a brain metastasis as his only curatively intended salvage treatment. Six patients did not receive any treatment for their recurrent malignancy (refusal, terminal condition) except for purely palliative measures. The disease-free survival for the total group was 27% at 5 years. Complete response to primary treatment lasting for > or = 6 months was the only parameter which significantly predicted a favourable outcome (45% 5 year disease-free survival in 12 eligible patients).