Fifty-two patients 60 to 75 years of age were treated for Hodgkin's disease at Stanford University between 1968 and 1980. Adequate staging was defined as including a lymphogram and staging laparotomy for stage I to III and a positive bone marrow or liver biopsy or other evidence of diffuse involvement of extralymphatic tissues for stage IV. Adequate treatment was defined as subtotal lymphoid irradiation for pathologic stages I to MA; total lymphoid irradiation for stages IIB to IIIA; and chemotherapy with or without irradiation for stages IIIB to IV. Twenty-four patients (46%) had advanced disease (IIIB to IV). Those patients who received appropriate treatment had a median survival of only 39 months. Of the 28 patients with limited disease (I to IIIA), 15 had laparotomy and adequate treatment. Thirteen did not have a laparotomy and 7 were treated with involved-field irradiation. The 5-year survival rate in the laparotomy-staged and adequately treated group was 86%, but in the clinically staged group, only 35% (p = 0.006).