With demonstration of the failure of extracranial-intracranial (EC-IC) bypass to reduce the incidence of stroke in patients with internal carotid artery (ICA) occlusion, controversy continues regarding the best method of stroke prevention in these high-risk persons. One approach, endarterectomy of stenotic lesions of the contralateral carotid bifurcation, has been used for 145 patients with ICA occlusion during the past 25 years. Presenting symptoms included focal transient ischemic attacks (TIAs) in 62 patients, stroke (CVA) in 57, and nonfocal TIAs in 16. Ten patients were asymptomatic. Nine patients (6.2%) sustained perioperative strokes, only three of which were ipsilateral to the endarterectomy. There were three perioperative deaths (2.1%). During the follow-up period (mean 4 years) there were 13 new strokes (9.2%), four of which were fatal. These late results compare favorably with patients from the cooperative study of EC-IC bypass with occlusion of one ICA, whether they received surgical treatment or were managed nonoperatively. With the exception of select situations where an occluded ICA may be reopened, we conclude that the best current therapy for these patients is close observation of the nonoccluded ICA and endarterectomy once a stenotic lesion is encountered.