From 1972 to 1991, 7 patients with advanced cancer of the head and neck and nodal metastasis with capsular rupture underwent radical neck dissection and sacrifice of the carotid artery. Vascular reconstruction was performed with either an autologous venous (8 cases) or arterial (1 case) graft. In all patients, the postoperative course was uneventful without neurologic complications. One patient is alive 4 years after the procedure. Six patients expired after a mean survival of 20 months. The indications for vascular reconstruction are discussed.