Six elderly patients had percutaneous balloon aortic valvuloplasty for severe, symptomatic calcific aortic stenosis because valve replacement surgery was considered too risky in five patients with severe coexisting cardiac or other medical problems and because one patient refused to have surgery. The procedure resulted in a significant reduction in the mean (+/-SD) aortic valve gradient, from 47 +/- 13 to 32 +/- 12 mm Hg (change, -32%, p less than 0.01), and a significant increase in the mean area of the aortic valve, from 0.64 +/- 0.12 to 0.90 +/- 0.17 cm2 (change, +40%, p less than 0.001). Blood loss from the femoral puncture site was the only major procedural complication. At a mean follow-up of 2 months after the procedure, all patients were alive and dyspnea had improved by two New York Heart Association functional classes in four patients and by one functional class in two patients. A significant short-term increase in aortic valve area and alleviation in symptoms can be achieved safely by percutaneous balloon aortic valvuloplasty in elderly patients with severe calcific aortic stenosis who are at high risk for surgical complications.