A retrospective review is presented of 20 cases with resection of intrathoracic goitre between 1975 and 1993. The mean age of the 11 men and nine women was 53 years. The intrathoracic goitre was primary in seven cases and secondary in 13. The presenting clinical features and the pathology, surgical risks and optimal approaches are discussed. Primary intrathoracic goitre should be approached via a thoracotomy, because of the independent vascular supply. As secondary intrathoracic goitres are supplied by vascular pedicles arising from the inferior thyroid artery, a cervical collar incision is preferable. In the event of significant mediastinal bleeding, which is difficult to control from a cervical incision, a T-shaped incision for partial or full sternotomy can be performed, or even thoracotomy.