Recent histopathologic and intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) data indicate that inadequate compensatory enlargement of atherosclerotic lesions contributes to the development of significant arterial stenoses. Such lesions may contain less plaque, which may have implications for atheroablative interventions. In this study, we compared lesions with (group A, n = 16) and without inadequate compensatory enlargement (group B, n = 30) as determined by IVUS. The acute results and the follow-up lumen dimensions of angiographically successful directional coronary atherectomy procedures were compared. Inadequate compensatory enlargement was considered present when the preintervention arterial cross-sectional area at the target lesion site was smaller than that at the (distal) reference site. Three-dimensional IVUS analysis and quantitative angiography were performed in 46 patients before and after intervention. IVUS measurements included the arterial, lumen, and plaque (arterial minus lumen) cross-sectional areas at the target lesion site (i.e., smallest lumen site) and the (distal) reference site. Angiographic follow-up was performed in 42 patients. Preintervention and postintervention angiographic measurements and IVUS lumen cross-sectional area measurements were similar in both groups. However, at follow-up, the angiographic minimum lumen and reference diameters were significantly smaller in group A compared with group B (1.71 +/- 0.47 mm vs 2.14 +/- 0.73 mm, p <0.03, and 2.97 +/- 0.29 mm vs 3.39 +/- 0.76 mm, p <0.02; group A vs B). The data of this observational study suggest that lesions with inadequate compensatory enlargement, as determined by IVUS before intervention, may have less favorable long-term lumen dimensions after directional coronary atherectomy procedures.