Whipple resections for pancreatic head carcinoma are often inadequate because tumor is left behind in the body and tail. Thirty-six patients have undergone total pancreatectomy for various conditions, of which 25 have undergone total pancreatectomy for ductal carcinoma. Thirty-seven per cent of these 25 patients have shown histologic evidence that a Whipple resection would not have adequately removed tumor-bearing pancreatic tissue. Three patients had carcinoma spreading up and along the common bile duct from a primary ductal carcinoma in the head of the pancreas. Four patients had tumor infiltrating in continuity into the pancreatic body and tail at a distance from the palpable tumor in the head well to the left of a Whipple transection site. Five patients had widespread multifocal autonomous tumor involving other areas in the gland but with tumor palpable only in the head of the pancreas. Three patients (12%) died postoperatively. The two year survival rate is 32%, and the five year survival, 19%. Histological factors affecting the survival prognosis include 1) positive nodes, 2) tumor extension up the common duct, and 3) intra-pancreatic extension and multicentricity of tumor mandating total pancreatectomy for hope of cure in at least 38% of cases.