From 1969 through 1973, 335 consecutive patients (mean age, 60 years) underwent 390 carotid endarterectomies using hypercarbic general anesthesia and no carotid shunting. Early neurologic complications were most common among patients with previous neurologic symptoms and among those with subtotal stenosis or occlusion of the contralateral internal carotid artery. The introduction of routine carotid shunting without hypercarbia during a subsequent series of 626 procedures from 1974 through 1978 has been associated with significantly fewer operative strokes in comparable groups of patients. Complete follow-up information during a mean interval of 8.6 years is available for 95% of 325 operative survivors. Late completed strokes have occurred in 17% of patients but have involved the cerebral hemisphere on the side of previous carotid endarterectomy in only 7%. Of 93 operative survivors who had subtotal stenosis of the contralateral internal carotid artery, 45 underwent contralateral endarterectomy as an elective procedure and 48 did not. The late contralateral stroke rates for these two groups of patients were 4% and 16%, respectively, although these differences did not attain statistical significance. Forty-nine (78%) of 63 patients with contralateral internal carotid occlusion have had no late neurologic symptoms following unilateral carotid endarterectomy.