Between April 1987 and March 1995, 198 patients (133 males [67.17%] and 65 female [32.83%]; mean age 63.85 years) underwent descending thoracic aortic aneurysm repair. Of these, 142 patients (71.71%) had symptoms. In most patients (n = 123 [62%]) the aneurysmal disease was extensive, involving at least two thirds of the descending aorta. In 153 patients (77.27%), the repair was completed with the simple clamp technique (mean clamping time 24.6 minutes). Left atrium-to-femoral bypass was used in 26 patients (13.13%) at high risk (mean clamping time 37.4 minutes). Profound hypothermia and circulatory arrest were necessary in 19 patients (9.6%) with extensive aneurysms that involved the arch and ascending aorta (mean circulatory arrest time 46 minutes). Operative mortality was 5.1% (n = 10). The causes of death were cardiac in three patients (1.5%), pulmonary in four (2.0%), and renal in three (1.5%). Postoperative paraplegia occurred in three patients (1.5%). Important predictors (p < 0.05) of mortality at regression analysis included renal failure, pulmonary complications, and paraplegia. The only independent predictor of paraplegia was clamping time. In conclusion, the simple clamp procedure remains the technique of choice in the majority of patients with descending aortic aneurysms. Atriofemoral bypass is an important adjunct in patients at high risk.