From August 1987 through February 1995 we performed 42 surgical procedures in 29 patients with occluded or stenotic radiocephalic arteriovenous fistulae. Operations were designed to preserve native veins for cannulation (Group I) or to preserve access in the same forearm, bypassing the failed fistula (Group II). For 27 procedures in 22 Group I patients, cumulative primary patency was 70%, 57%, and 47% at 6, 12, and 18 months, respectively. A subgroup of patients was identified, however, in whom excellent results could be reliably predicted. Among 19 hemodynamically stable patients with mature fistulae amendable to more proximal arteriovenous anastomoses, cumulative primary patency was 100%, 81%, and 67% at 6, 12, and 18 months, respectively. Secondary patency for 17 such patients was 100%, 89% and 89% for these same intervals. In Group II only two of ten patients required use of other access sites (9 1/2, 18 1/2 months). We believe that all occluded or stenotic radiocephalic arteriovenous fistulae should be considered for surgical salvage. Excellent results can be predicted for (1) hemodynamically stable patients with (2) mature fistulae that (3) fail near the arterial anastomosis and are (4) amendable to new more proximal arteriovenous anastomoses.