The clinical course of 16 consecutive patients with stenosis of the middle cerebral artery angiographically diagnosed between 1970 and 1977 was reviewed. All were managed nonsurgically with medical treatment including anticoagulation. Prior to therapy, transient ischemic attacks had occurred in 15 and cerebral infarction in 11. Initially, none exhibited more than a minor neurological deficit. Follow-up from one month to six years showed a benign course in 14 patients: 13 experienced no subsequent transient attacks or new stroke; 1 had repeated transient attacks for two years but not in the following four years. Two of the 16 developed a severe stroke early in the course, before medical therapy was started. No distinctive clinical or radiographic features were identified that permitted prediction of the outcome. This small series supports the need for a randomized study of bypass efficacy in these patients.