Clinical study of carotid artery laser endarterectomy began April 15, 1988. This report describes the first 10 cases that were performed in nine patients (five men and four women, mean age 70 years). Indications were asymptomatic stenosis (5), transient ischemic attacks (4), and stroke in evolution (1). There were two emergency cases and eight elective cases (including one reoperative case). Surgical exposure, systemic heparinization, vascular control, and a longitudinal arteriotomy were used. The cleavage plane between atheromas and media was developed with argon ion laser radiation (488 and 514.5 nm) directed through a 300 microns quartz fiber at power 1.0 W. Laser radiation was used to cut the atheromas out of the arteries and weld the end points. Residual atheromatous debris were vaporized with individual laser exposures. Arteriotomies were closed with sutures, and blood flow was restored. The endarterectomies were 3.9 +/- 1.1 cm long and required 330 +/- 97 joules. Mean clamp time was 22.5 +/- 7.9 minutes. Shunts were used in two cases. There were no arterial perforations or injuries as a result of laser light. Complications were hematoma (1), respiratory arrest (1), and transient neurologic deficit (1). Carotid endarterectomy is technically feasible with argon ion laser radiation. In the present series, postoperative observations, averaging 12 months and ranging from 5 to 19 months, have shown satisfactory results. No angiographic follow-up examinations were carried out.