The charts of the patients with nonspecific empyema underwent surgery between 1974-1994 were reviewed. Seven hundreds thirty-nine operations were performed in 682 patients. Indications of surgery were pleural thickenning in 423 (57,2%) operations, to close a persistent pleural space in 233 (31,5%), destroyed lung plus empyema in 26 (3,6%) and revision of the first operation in 57 (7,7%). Operations performed were decortication in 412 (55,8%), thoracomyoplasty in 287 (38,8%), decortication and pulmonary resection in 26 (3,6%), decortication and thoracomyoplasty in 11 (1,5%) and Eloesser flap in three operations. Postoperative hospital stay was 23 days median. Overall morbidity and mortality rates were 22,5% and 7,2%, respectively. Timing of surgery, selection of the correct surgical procedure and preoperative medical control of the pulmonary disease are important points of the success of the surgical treatment of empyema. Morbidity and mortality rates are acceptable.