• In the initial trial of open laser endarterectomy, 16 patients underwent 18 reconstructions for claudication (13 patients), rest pain (3 patients), and gangrene (2 patients). The mean (±SD) preoperative ankle arm index was 0.53 ±0.18. The laser endarterectomies were aorto-bi-iliac (1 patient), iliac (1 patient), superficial femoral (7 patients), profunda femoral (7 patients), and popliteal-posterior tibial (2 patients). All operations included surgical exposure, vascular control, administration of heparin, and an arteriotomy. Atheromas were dissected from arteries with argon ion laser radiation (power, 1.0 W). End points were welded with laser light. Arteries were closed primarily. The laser endarterectomies were 6 to 60 cm long and required 168 J to 2447.5 J. All patients had symptomatic relief, with a postoperative ankle arm index of 0.97 ± 0.10. There were no arterial perforations from laser radiation. Surgical complications included early thrombosis requiring thrombectomy (3 patients) and hematoma requiring evacuation (1 patient). The laser endarterectomies have an 88% patency at 1 year. Open endarterectomy can be performed with laser radiation. A larger clinical trial is necessary to define the indications for laser endarterectomy in peripheral vascular disease.