The outcomes of 489 patients undergoing 500 carotid endarterectomies were reviewed to compare results from using general anesthesia with those from using regional (cervical block) anesthesia. From September 1982 to May 1998, 228 procedures (221 patients) were performed under general anesthesia and 272 procedures (268 patients) were performed under local anesthesia. A detailed comparison of the two groups revealed close similarity in age, sex, presenting symptoms, and associated risk factors. Overall, perioperative mortality was 0.8%. In comparison to regional anesthesia, the general anesthesia group had greater overall morbidity (23.3 vs. 13.6%, p < 0.008) and more frequent use of postoperative vasoactive drugs to control blood pressure (40.4 vs. 26.1%, p < 0.001). Furthermore, anesthesia time, operative time, and frequency of shunt use were significantly greater in the general anesthesia group (p < 0.03).