Two-hundred eighty angiographic studies performed for suspected acute arterial trauma were reviewed to evaluate the relationship between the clinical findings and arterial injury. Extremity injury occurred in 237 cases. The proximity of a penetrating injury or a fracture to a major vascular structure was the sole indication for angiographic study in 136. No major arterial injury was discovered in either group. Exclusion of these patients would have improved the extremity angiographic yield from 25% to 58% while missing no patients with major arterial injury. We conclude, based on the negligible yield, that clinical observation of these patients is a safe alternative if adequate followup is assured; elective angiography may be performed if followup is questionable. Nineteen of 20 (95%) patients with an absent distal pulse and clinical signs of extremity ischemia had a major arterial injury. All extremity arterial injuries occurred within 5 cm of bullet fragments, bone fragments, entrance wound, or exit wound. Given the virtual assurance of finding major arterial injury, patients with unifocal injury and a threatened limb may proceed directly to the operating room to minimize ischemic time.