Between 1971 and 1989, 749 carotid endarterectomies were performed at our institution for symptomatic carotid occlusive disease in patients older than 70 years of age. Of these procedures, 693 were done in patients 71 through 80 years of age, and 56 were done in patients between the ages of 81 and 90 years. The neurologic morbidity and perioperative mortality in the former group were 2.9% and 1.4%, respectively, whereas in the latter group the corresponding values were 5.4% and 0%, respectively. For the entire group, the neurologic morbidity was 3.1% and the mortality was 1.3%. Of the 23 new postoperative neurologic deficits, 19 (83%) occurred in high-risk patients with severe preoperative neurologic or medical risks, and 14 (61%) of these deficits were minor. In selected elderly patients with symptomatic hemodynamically significant carotid occlusive disease, endarterectomy seems to be a safe procedure that is associated with acceptably low perioperative morbidity and mortality.