Surgical treatment of abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is being challenged by newer, minimally invasive therapies. Such new treatment strategies will need to prove themselves against concurrent results of standard operative AAA repair, within defined medical risk and aneurysm morphological categories. We review the natural history of AAAs, the medical risk levels for elective AAA repair, aneurysm morphology and its impact on operative mortality, the issue of high-risk patient treatment, and the current standard of care for AAAs based on single-center, multicenter, and population-based statistics. In good-risk patients, aneurysms > 5 cm in diameter are best treated by replacement with a prosthetic graft. Operative mortality should be < 5% 1-year survival > 90%. Aortic endograft techniques must meet or exceed these standards if they are to supplant standard surgical repair.