BACKGROUND: Laryngeal chondrosarcomas occur infrequently. Their management is often guided by inferences made from the management of sarcomas arising from more commonly afflicted organs. METHOD: A retrospective analysis of patients with laryngeal chondrosarcomas treated at the Mayo Clinic between 1959 and 1992 was performed to assess prognostic factors and outcomes after various treatments. RESULTS: A total of 20 patients received treatment during this time period. All chondrosarcomas were low grade; 19 involved the cricoid cartilage and one arose in the supraglottic larynx. Initial treatment consisted of local excision (often subtotal removal) alone in 12 patients (60%), hemilaryngectomy in 2 (10%), near total laryngectomy in 2 (10%), and total laryngectomy in 4 (20%). Six patients (30%) had local recurrence: five initially had local excision and one had hemilaryngectomy. All local recurrences or tumor progression developed >3 years after initial treatment. Salvage surgery was performed in five of the six patients who had local recurrence, and the other patient was observed. Of the five patients who had salvage surgery, three required another resection because of a second recurrence. CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that initial conservative subtotal laryngectomy should be explored further because this treatment may provide long-term voice preservation in most patients, and patients who experience a recurrence after local excision often have been given several years of voice preservation.