The prevalence of serious angiographic coronary artery disease ranges from 37% to 78% in patients undergoing operation for peripheral vascular disease. Clinical studies have demonstrated that cardiac outcome after peripheral vascular surgery is not adequately predicted by the standard criteria of history, physical findings and rest electrocardiogram. An adequate exercise work load, left ventricular function and thallium redistribution have proved important in perioperative risk stratification. The choice of a perioperative functional cardiac test depends on patient-related factors and the nature of the peripheral vascular operation. Although procedures involving aortic cross-clamping exert a greater hemodynamic stress than do carotid endarterectomy and femoral popliteal surgery, late cardiac morbidity and mortality are significant in all patients with atherosclerotic disease. The decision to proceed with preoperative coronary angiography and myocardial revascularization should be based primarily on indications independent of the peripheral vascular procedure. However, peripheral vascular surgery may influence the timing of myocardial revascularization. Patients with high risk or unstable coronary artery disease may benefit from preoperative coronary revascularization, although this hypothesis remains unproved. In all patients, careful monitoring during and after operation is essential. All patients with peripheral vascular disease should be considered to be at lifelong risk for fatal and nonfatal cardiac events and should undergo appropriate clinical and laboratory evaluation and be treated accordingly.