Carotid arterial endarterectomy is considered to be the standard for the treatment of atherosclerotic carotid arterial occlusive disease. This has been validated with results of several randomized controlled trials in which its effectiveness has been demonstrated over that of the best nonsurgical therapy. In the past several years, however, carotid angioplasty with stent placement has emerged as a potential alternative to carotid endarterectomy. This article represents a critical examination of the rationale for carotid revascularization; the history of endovascular techniques for the treatment of carotid atherosclerosis, beginning with balloon angioplasty and evolving to the use of stents; and the evidence supporting the effectiveness of the endovascular approach. A brief description of the current technical aspects of carotid artery stent placement is presented. The future status of the endovascular approach will be determined with randomized trials in which carotid artery stent placement is directly compared with endarterectomy, as well as by the potential for further innovation and improvement in endovascular devices, technique, and safety.