We reviewed 28 patients with Takayasu's disease to determine the incidence of stroke and its relationship to the involvement of the thoracic aortic arch and its branches. We describe surgical experiences with 10 of the 28 patients who required 21 vascular surgical procedures for critical thoracic aortic arch arterial stenoses, upper and lower extremity ischemia, and renal artery stenoses. Four of the 28 patients initially had a stroke caused by occlusion of one or more thoracic aortic arch arteries. Six of the 10 patients underwent 7 bypass procedures for critical thoracic arch stenoses. All have remained free of stroke for 5 or more years. Four patients had five anastomotic stenoses or graft occlusions in late follow-up; the development of these stenoses did not relate to disease activity at the time of the operative procedure. All bypass grafts originating from the subclavian axillary artery developed anastomotic stenoses; no anastomotic stenoses occurred in bypass grafts originating from the ascending aorta. In contrast to other reports, no anastomotic false aneurysms occurred. Occlusions of major aortic arch arteries in Takayasu's disease cause stroke. Bypass of critically stenoses aortic arch arteries protects against stroke and is best performed with grafts originating from the ascending aorta. Anastomotic stenoses but not anastomotic aneurysms are common. This study suggests that aggressive surgical treatment can be performed with good results.