Carotid body tumors are encountered rarely and can present a difficult surgical problem. We reviewed the records of 16 patients with 19 tumors, who were entered in the Head and Neck Tumour Registry of the University of Toronto. There were no functionally secreting tumors and no patients with metastases. Most tumors were identified pre-operatively by clinical examination and angiography. However, five were found at open biopsy and required a second procedure. The mortality rate was 0 following embolization. One patient suffered a severe CNS complication and one patient a TIA. The major morbidity resulted from cranial nerve palsies in seven out of 16 patients. Recently, we have utilized a new method for resection of these highly vascular tumors that results in less blood loss and an increased ease of removal.