A retrospective angiographic analysis was designed to extrapolate the frequency of angiographically defined asymptomatic intracranial aneurysms in the anterior circulation from a relatively unbiased clinical series. A total of 9295 angiograms were reviewed from January, 1980, to January, 1987, and, based on these, 278 patients with minimal bias for the presence of an aneurysm were selected. Three patients were found to have incidental aneurysms; thus, the angiographic frequency of patients with asymptomatic aneurysms in this series was 1%. This patient population is skewed toward the older age groups and probably over-represents the incidence of these aneurysms in the population at large. Comparing current subarachnoid hemorrhage statistics and the low frequency of asymptomatic aneurysms suggests that a larger percentage of these aneurysms than was previously thought subsequently rupture. This study contrasts sharply with previous reports quoting a high incidence of aneurysms, and significantly alters the concept and treatment of this disease.