We report 66 patients undergoing 69 operations for chronic renal artery occlusive diseases operated on at two institutions between January 1985 and June 1990. Etiology was atherosclerosis in 59 patients (90%); fibromuscular disease in four (6%), and three children with nonfibromuscular disease stenosis (4%). Atherosclerosis was local in 10 and generalized in 49 (83% of all patients). Fifty operations (72%) were for salvage of renal function. Average serum creatinine was 2.3 mg/dl and was elevated in 46 patients (70%). Donor arteries for reconstruction were aorta 20 (29%), aortic graft 16 (23%), and other abdominal arteries 33 (48%). Twenty-one patients had concomitant vascular procedures including 16 aortic replacements. The two operative deaths (3%) followed aortic replacements. Three grafts (4%) occluded before discharge from the hospital. Eighty-six percent of patients undergoing renal salvage avoided long-term dialysis. In past decades fibromuscular disease and localized atherosclerosis were the most frequent renal artery occlusive diseases undergoing surgery, hypertension was the predominant indication, and the most frequent operation was aortorenal bypass. As a result of improved pharmacologic management of hypertension and the development of percutaneous transluminal dilation, most patients in this series had far advanced generalized atherosclerosis, and renal salvage was the most frequent indication for operation. As a consequence of the severity of the atherosclerosis, 48% of operations avoided the aorta, 23% replaced the aorta, and aortorenal bypass was used in only 29%.