Extracranial vertebrobasilar artery thrombo-occlusive disease may cause repetitive transient ischemic episodes and, less frequently, brain-stem or cerebellar infarction. This report describes 40 patients who experienced repetitive vertebrobasilar ischemic symptoms despite maximal medical therapy. The natural history, pathogenesis, and treatment options for each causative lesion are reviewed. The operative approaches to symptomatic disease of the proximal vertebral arteries, arterial compression by cervical osteophytes, traumatic lesions of the vertebral arteries, and thrombo-occlusive pathology of the distal extracranial vertebral arteries are outlined. Specific anesthetic and surgical techniques that have proved successful while achieving zero operative mortality and low perioperative morbidity rates are reported.