During the period 1970-1993, 116 patients (63 men, 53 women) with native aortic valvular infective endocarditis were treated surgically. The mean age was 37 years. The main causative organisms were streptococci and staphylococci. Indication for surgery was cardiac failure (70 cases), uncontrolled sepsis (30), peripheral emboli (11) and overwhelming destruction of the aortic valve (five). Hospital and late mortality rates were 8% and 11% respectively. Patients who died in hospital and those who presented a paravalvular leakage had a ring abscess associated with aortic wall destruction. Among 34 patients screened for cerebral septic emboli the condition was confirmed in 15, of whom six were symptom-free. Thus, it is believed that in the presence of root abscess, surgery should be undertaken promptly, regardless of the cardiac status. It is confirmed that cerebral septic emboli should be systematically screened for in the presence of any infective endocarditis.