Primary gastrointestinal lymphoma is a common presentation of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. The main controversy arises when many aspects of its classification and management are under discussion, particularly regarding roles for surgical resection. The aim of this study was to evaluate clinicopathologic characteristics and the therapeutic outcome of primary gastrointestinal non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. We carried out a retrospective analysis of 74 patients who were presented to our center with histopathological diagnosis of primary gastro-intestinal non-Hodgkin's lymphoma between 1990 and 2001. All patients have been staged according to Lugano Staging System. For histopathological classification, International Working Formulation was applied. The treatment choice concerning the surgical or non-surgical management was decided by the initially acting physician. Treatment modalities were compared using the parameters of age, sex, histopathological results, stage, and the site of disease. Of the 74 patients, 31 were female and 43 were male, with a median age of 49 years (range 15-80). The stomach was the most common primary site and was seen in 51 of 74 patients (68.9%). The intermediate and high grade lymphomas constituted 91.9% of the all cases. In a median follow-up of 29 months (range 2-128), 20 out of 74 patients died. There was a three year overall survival rate in 65.4% of all patients. The three year overall survival rate was better in stage I and III patients who were treated with surgery plus chemotherapy (+/-RT) than those treated with chemotherapy alone (93.7% vs. 55.6%, p < 0.05). The stage and presence of B symptoms affected the disease free survival and overall survival significantly, but the histopathologic grade only affected the overall survival. On the basis of these results, we suggest that surgical resection is necessary before chemo-therapy in early stage (stage I and 111) patients with gastrointestinal non-Hodgkin's lymphomas because of the significant survival advantage it would bring to the patient.