Background A peripheral extracorporeal membrane oxygenator (p-ECMO) has been developed to support patients who are dying due to a serious cardiopulmonary condition. This analysis was planned to define the clinical situation in which the patient benefits most from a p-ECMO. Material and Methods Between June 2007 and Aug 2009, a total of 41 adult patients used the p-ECMO. There were 23 males and 18 females (mean age 54.4±15.1 years). All patients had very unstable vital signs with hypoxia and complex cardiac problems. We divided the patients into 4 groups. In the first group, a p-ECMO was used as a bridge to cardiac operation. In the second group, patients did not have the opportunity to undergo any cardiac procedures; nevertheless, they were treated with a p-ECMO. In the third group, patients mostly had difficulty in weaning from CPB (cardiopulmonary bypass) after cardiac operation. The fourth group suffered from many complications, such as pneumonia, bleeding, infections, and LV dysfunction with underlying cardiac problems. All cannulations were performed by the Seldinger technique or cutting down the femoral vessel. A long venous cannula of DLP® (Medtronic Inc, Minneapolis, MN) or RMI® (Edwards Lifesciences LLC, Irvine, CA) was used together with a 17~21 Fr arterial cannula and a 21 Fr venous cannula. As a bypass pump, a Capiox emergency bypass system (EBS®; Terumo, Tokyo, Japan) was used. We attempted to maintain a flow rate of 2.4~3.0 L/min/m2 and an activated clotting time (ACT) of around 180 seconds. Results Nine patients survived by the use of the p-ECMO. Ten patients were weaned from a p-ECMO but they did not survive, and the remainder had no chance to be weaned from the p-ECMO. The best clinical situation to apply the p-ECMO was to use it as a bridge to cardiac operation and for weaning from CPB after cardiac operation. Conclusion Various clinical results were derived by p-ECMO according to the clinical situation. For the best results, early adoption of the p-ECMO for anatomical correction appears important.