The development by the senior author (P.C.) of percutaneous tracheostomy from cricothyroidostomy and subcricoid fingertip tracheostomy is traced, and the technique and patient material of percutaneous subcricoid tracheostomy is presented. This new technique consists of inserting a tracheostomy tube by the use of a J guide wire inserted through a cannula into the tracheal lumen. Tapered dilators follow the guide wire and dilate the opening in the tracheal walls. A tracheostomy tube snugly fitted over a dilator is then passed into the trachea between the cricoid cartilage and the first tracheal ring. This procedure avoids the immediate and postoperative complications of "standard" tracheostomy. An experience of 134 tracheostomies of various types culminated in the development of the percutaneous technique. To date 26 such operations on 24 patients have been done with no significant complications due to the operation. The percutaneous technique should reduce the severity and incidence of intraoperative complications. Late complications, which have been no problem to date, are being evaluated with longer follow-up and with a greater patient population.