Fifty-one children with discrete subvalvular aortic stenosis were studied between 1951 and 1974. The three anatomic types of obstruction found were the thin membranous type (43 cases), the fibromuscular collar type (5 cases) and the tunnel type (3 cases). The obstruction was usually severe, and the median left ventricular to aortic systolic pressure gradient was 90 mm Hg. Progressive obstruction with an increasing gradient was documented in 10 patients by serial cardiac catherizations. Significant associated cardiac defects, present in 57 percent of patients, often masked the typical clinical and cardiac catheterization features of subaortic stenosis. The stenosis was often not discovered until after surgery for the associated defect. Forty patients underwent surgical resection of the discrete subaortic obstruction. After surgery significant left ventricular to aortic pressure gradients can be found at postoperative cardiac catheterization. These gradients may reflect inadequate resection of the more complex discrete obstructions or represent proliferation and regrowth of the previously resected subvalvular fibrous tissue. The criteria for operability of discrete subaortic stenosis should be the angiographic demonstration of a discrete subvalvular diaphragm and the presence of a resting left ventricular to aortic systolic pressure gradient of 40 mm Hg or more.