To determine the relative incidence of recurrent carotid stenosis (RCS) and the effect of methodology on data analysis and interpretation, late results were obtained for 232 patients (270 procedures) from 1 to 51 months (mean 22 months) after carotid endarterectomy (group A). Patency of the carotid artery was confirmed by postoperative intravenous digital subtraction angiography (DSA) for most of the series, and a subset (subgroup A1) of 113 patients (129 procedures) also received DSA studies at later intervals of 4 to 49 months (mean 26 months). There were 23 late deaths and five late strokes. Only two of the strokes were ipsilateral to previous endarterectomy, and both of these patients had normal follow-up DSA studies. Late DSA imaging revealed either no RCS or only trivial defects (20% diameter or less) in 111 arteries, moderate (36% to 60%) RCS in nine, severe (70% to 90%) RCS requiring secondary procedures in eight, and internal carotid occlusion in one. Depending on the definition of RCS (secondary operation vs greater than or equal to 30% angiographic lesions), the cohort selected for analysis (group A vs subgroup A1), and the approach to calculations (crude vs cumulative), the incidence of recurrent stenosis after carotid reconstruction in this single study could be expressed within the extraordinary wide range of 3% to 32%. Although carotid endarterectomy was associated with uniformly low risk for late stroke, these results confirm that the reported recurrence rate may be substantially influenced by the method in which data are grouped and manipulated. Consistently presented data are essential to any comparisons concerning the surgical therapy for extracranial disease.