PURPOSE: Preoperative neutrophil count is reportedly associated with poor prognosis in cancer patients. This study aimed to investigate the clinical significance of pre-treatment peripheral blood cell counts in patients with thymic epithelial tumors (TETs). METHODS: A retrospective review of 71 patients with completely resected TETs [64 thymoma, 6 thymic carcinoma, and 1 thymic neuroendocrine tumor] between 2000 and 2018 was conducted. Associations between tumor recurrence and pre-treatment peripheral blood cell counts of leukocytes (WBC), neutrophils (Neut), lymphocytes (Lymph), monocytes (Mono), and platelets (Plt) were analyzed. Optimal cut-off points were selected using receiver operating characteristic curve analysis to predict tumor recurrence. RESULTS: High WBC (≥ 7000), Neut (≥ 4450), and Plt (≥ 226 × 103) counts had significantly poor relapse-free survival (RFS), but high Lymph (≥ 1950) and Mono (≥ 400) did not. High Neut had the strongest correlation with recurrence (area under curve, 0.800); we focused on the analysis between high-Neut and low-Neut groups. High Neut count significantly correlated with smoking history, pre-treatment C-reactive protein level, and advanced stage; high Neut count and aggressive histology tended to show correlations. RFS was significantly poorer in the high-Neut group than in the low-Neut group (p = 0.003), with 5-year RFS rates of 63.8% and 96.8%, respectively. High Neut count was a significant adverse predictor for RFS and cumulative incidence of recurrence (p = 0.005 and p < 0.001, respectively). The risk scoring system comprising high Neut count, advanced stage, and aggressive histology demonstrated better prognostic ability than any prognostic factors alone. CONCLUSIONS: High Neut count significantly correlated with TET recurrence, suggesting a negative prognostic effect of latent inflammation in TET patients.