We reviewed 124 patients with a conventional pelvic chondrosarcoma who had been treated over a period of 20 years. We recorded the type of tumour (central or peripheral), type of operation (limb salvage surgery or hemipelvectomy), the grade of tumour, local recurrence and/or metastases, in order to identify the factors which might influence survival. More satisfactory surgical margins were achieved for central tumours or in those patients treated by hemipelvectomy. However, grade 1 tumours, whatever the course, did not develop metastases or cause death, while grade 3 tumours had the worst outcome and prognosis. Central, high-grade tumours require aggressive surgical treatment in order to achieve adequate surgical margins, particularly in those lesions located close to the sacroiliac joint. By contrast, grade 1 peripheral chondrosarcomas may be treated with contaminated margins in order to reduce operative morbidity, but without reducing survival.