Surgical management of choroidal neovascularization may offer patients with subretinal membranes another therapeutic option. Current techniques allow extraction of subretinal membranes, but not all patients have favorable clinical outcomes with such an approach. This article reviews the current state of subretinal surgery and attempts to summarize those characteristics that may predict good surgical results. Vitreoretinal surgical techniques for the management of subretinal membranes are reasonably well established. Certain characteristics of choroidal neovascularization have been identified that may suggest favorable surgical outcomes; however, no randomized prospective data are yet available to show the role of these procedures. The National Institutes of Health-sponsored Submacular Surgery Trials are designed to determine whether surgery or observation is better for eyes with subfoveal choroidal neovascularization in presumed ocular histoplasmosis syndrome or age-related macular degeneration and in eyes with age-related macular degeneration-associated hematomas. (C) 2000 Lippincott Williams and Wilkins, Inc.