The authors report the results of a long-term follow-up study of 130 patients with 161 unruptured intracranial saccular aneurysms. Their findings suggest that unruptured saccular aneurysms less than 10 mm in diameter have a very low probability of subsequent rupture. The mean diameter of the aneurysms that subsequently ruptured was 21.3 mm, compared with a diameter of 7.5 mm for aneurysms defined after rupture at the same institution. Part of the explanation for this discrepancy may be that the size of the filling compartment of the aneurysm decreases after rupture. There is also evidence from the present study that intracranial saccular aneurysms develop with increasing age of the patient and stabilize over a relatively short period, if they do not initially rupture, and that the likelihood of subsequent rupture decreases considerably if the initial stabilized size is less than 10 mm in diameter. Consequently, the critical size for aneurysm rupture is likely to be smaller if rupture occurs at the time of or soon after aneurysm formation. There seems to be a substantial difference in potential for growth and rupture between previously ruptured and unruptured aneurysms.