To establish guidelines for the surgical treatment of patients with infective endocarditis who have cerebrovascular complications, we conducted a detailed retrospective study of 181 of 244 patients with cerebral complications among 2523 surgical cases of infective endocarditis of the Japanese Association of Thoracic Surgery. The results showed that 9.7% of all patients with infective endocarditis had associated cerebral complications: 108 (44.3%) had active native valve endocarditis, 96 (39.3%) had healed native valve endocarditis, and 40 (16.4%) had prosthetic valve endocarditis. The hospital mortality of the patients with cerebral complications was 11.0% in the group as a whole: 13.9% in active native valve endocarditis, 3.1% in healed native valve endocarditis, and 37.5% in prosthetic valve endocarditis. Diseased valves included the following aortic valve in 55.5%, mitral valve 49.8%, tricuspid valve in 1.3%, and pulmonary valve in 1.3%. In 181 patients with cerebral complications, organisms were detected as follows: gram-positive cocci in 133 (73.5% [Streptococcus in 85, Staphylococcus in 32]), gram-negative in 18 (9.9%), fungus in 11 (6.1%), and unknown in 64.6%, cerebral bleeding in 31.5%, cerebral abscess in 2.8%, and meningitis in 1.1%. Hospital mortality rate and an exacerbation rate of cerebral complications, including related death, according to the interval from onset of cerebral infarction to cardiac surgery, were as follows: 66.3% and 45.5% within 24 hours, 31.3% and 43.8% between 2 and 7 days, 16.7% and 16.7% between 8 and 14 days, 10.0% and 10.0% between 15 and 21 days, 26.3% and 10.5% between 22 and 28 days, and 7.0% and 2.3% over 4 weeks later, respectively. A significant correlation existed between the interval and the exacerbation of cerebral complications (tied p = 0.008). Preoperative risk factors affecting exacerbation of cerebral complications were as follows: (1) severity of cerebral complications (p = 0.006), (2) intervals (p = 0.012), and (3) uncontrolled congestive heart failure as indications for cardiac surgery (p = 0.014). One patient underwent a cardiac operation within 24 hours of the onset of cerebral hemorrhage and died of cerebral damage. No exacerbations occurred in 10 patients who underwent their operation between 2 and 28 days. Nevertheless, exacerbations occurred in 19.0% of patients whose operation was done more than 4 weeks later. These data suggest that cardiac operations can be done safely 4 weeks after cerebral infarction, and if the delay is more than 2 weeks, the exacerbation rate will be around 10%. The risk of progression of cerebral damage is still significant 15 days and even 4 weeks after cerebral hemorrhage.