To assess the impact of percutaneous transluminal angioplasty (PTA) of occluded femoral arteries, a prospective study of 107 claudicant patients was performed. A total of 117 limbs were treated and were followed for 1-36 months; the mean length of treated occlusions was 7.4 cm (range 2-25 cm). Eighty-nine recanalizations were performed using antegrade femoral and 28 using the retrograde popliteal catheterization technique. With logistic regression a short length of occlusion correlated favourably with early success. Including rePTAs and applying standardized criteria, survival analysis with the Kaplan-Meier method revealed a 3-year secondary patency rate of 55% for all the treated limbs. The following factors had negative influence on primary patency after successful recanalization; presence of soft thrombotic material in the recanalized artery segment and the presence of focal dissections after PTA. In univariate and multiple logistic regression analysis, male gender and a lesser extent of the atherosclerotic disease (assessed by the number of diseased vessels in the treated limb) correlated with a lower frequency of PTA procedure complications. There was no statistically significant difference in the complications, in the primary success or in the long-term results using either the femoral or popliteal route. However, the popliteal approach improved the early success of the originally antegrade access group by 6% and increased by about one-fifth the number of patients considered technically feasible for PTA in femoral artery occlusions. PTA can be used in femoral artery occlusions up to 10 cm long and it is especially suitable in femoral artery occlusions not exceeding 5 cm in length. PTA can be tried in femoral artery occlusions exceeding a length of 10 cm if operative treatment is not suitable.