Background Tumour necrosis factor-α (TNF) and melphalan based isolated limb perfusion (TM-ILP) is an attractive treatment option for advanced extremity soft tissue sarcomas (STS). This study reports on a 20-year single centre experience and discusses the evolution and changes in methodology since the introduction of TNF in ILP. Patients and methods We performed 306 TM-ILPs in 275 patients with extremity STS. All patients were candidates for amputation or mutilating surgery in order to achieve local control. Clinical response evaluation consisted of clinical examination and magnetic resonance imaging. To evaluate the importance of TNF-dose, treatment results of two periods (1991-2003 high dose (3-4 mg) TNF; 2003-2012 reduced dose (1-2 mg) TNF) were compared. Results During the study period, more femoral perfusions were done instead of iliac perfusions. Reduction of TNF dose and reduction of total ILP time did not lead to different clinical response rates (70% and 69% for periods 1 and 2 respectively) or different local recurrence rates, but was associated with less local toxicity (23% and 14% for periods 1 and 2 respectively). Hospital stay was significantly reduced during the study period. There was an improved pathological response in the high dose TNF group without consequences for clinical outcome. Conclusion TM-ILP remains a very effective treatment modality for limb threatening extremity STS. Moreover, reduction of dose and the growing experience in ILP led to less local toxicity and shorter hospital stay.