A consecutive series of 145 patients with acute aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) were operated on within 7 days of SAH and were prospectively evaluated over a 4-year period to determine if the timing of aneurysm surgery influenced the development of delayed cerebral ischemia. All patients were managed with a standardized policy of urgent surgical clipping and treatment with aggressive prophylactic postoperative volume expansion. Patients with delayed ischemic symptoms were additionally treated with induced hypertension. Forty-nine patients underwent surgery on Day 0 or 1 (Group 1) post-SAH, 60 patients on Day 2 or 3 (Group 2), and 36 patients on Days 4 through 7 (Group 3). Postoperative delayed cerebral ischemia developed in 16% of (Group 1) patients, in 22% of Group 2 patients, and in 28% of Group 3 patients. Cerebral infarction resulting from delayed cerebral ischemia developed in only 4% of Group 1 patients, 10% of Group 2 patients, and 11% of Group 3 patients. A bad clinical outcome as a result of delayed cerebral ischemia occurred in one Group 1 patient (2%), two Group 2 patients (3%), and one Group 3 patient (3%). Preoperative grade was not significantly correlated with the incidence or severity of delayed cerebral ischemia at any time interval except that patients in modified Hunt and Hess Grade I or II who underwent surgery on Day 0 or 1 after SAH had no strokes or bad outcomes from delayed cerebral ischemia. This study demonstrates that there is no rationale for delaying aneurysm surgery based on the time interval between SAH and patient evaluation.