Repair of abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) carries a xconsiderable rate of morbidity and mortality, but little information exists on the quality of life following this procedure. During 1988 and 1989, in two hospitals, 211 patients (186 men and 25 women; median age 74 (range 48--87) years) underwent surgery for AAA. There were 77 ruptured aneurysms and 134 electively repaired. Of these, 38 patients died in hospital (27 ruptured, 11 elective); by the time of review a further eight (one ruptured, seven elective) had died from unrelated causes. Of the 165 survivors, 131 (45 ruptured, 86 elective) were reviewed and questioned as to their physical and mental state before and after surgery. Using the Rosser index, a value for quality of life before and after surgery was calculated (1.0, good; 0, dead). The value for the elective group was 0.94 before operation and 0.96 after, but in the ruptured group fell from 0.98 before surgery to 0.87 afterwards. This study shows that patients undergoing elective surgery for repair of AAA retain good quality of life. By contrast, patients surviving emergency surgery following this procedure seem to suffer a deterioration in life quality, which must be endured for the same expected lifetime as that for the elective group. These results support the need for a national AAA ultrasonographic screening programme.