OBJECTIVES: To investigate the patterns of recurrence associated with superficial inguinal lymphadenectomy (SupIL) and vulvectomy for patients with Stage I/II vulvar cancer. METHODS: A retrospective chart review identified patients from 1990-2001 with Stage I/II vulvar cancer that underwent SupIL and vulvectomy. Survival was analyzed using the Kaplan-Meier method with Fisher Exact and Chi-square tests for comparisons between groups. RESULTS: 65 patients with Stage I/II vulvar cancer with a pathologically negative SupIL were identified (30 Stage I, 35 Stage II). Three patients recurred in the inguinal region, (4.6%) and 11 patients (16.9%) recurred on the vulva. Two of the 11 patients died of disease, six patients are alive without evidence of disease after additional therapy. Five-year disease-free survival and overall survival were 66% and 97%, respectively. Risk of recurrence was not associated with smoking status, stage, or margin status. CONCLUSIONS: SupIL and vulvectomy for Stage I/II vulvar cancer have a low recurrence rate in the inguinal region when nodes are negative. The local recurrence rate (17%) is acceptable, and overall survival is good using this conservative approach.