The estimated course of a penetrating missile provides some clues to planning intraoperative priorities and management. However, missiles which become intravascular emboli present diagnostic and therapeutic dilemmas. Twenty-eight patients have been seen with bullet emboli. Five patients had emboli to the lungs, two of which were removed. Two large bullets embolized from a right heart injury down the inferior vena cava, one to a hepatic vein and one to the right renal vein. Fourteen patients had arterial bullet emboli, four originating in the heart, four in the thoracic aorta, and six in the abdominal aorta. Two patients died, one of cerebral infarction secondary to bullet embolus to the right carotid artery and one of an unrecognized traumatic intracardiac defect. Complications were secondary to associated injuries rather than a result of removal of bullet emboli.