Recent developments in vascular surgery suggest that the retroperitoneal approach to the aorta and the use of epidural anesthesia for lower limb revascularization are associated with decreased morbidity and shorter hospital stays. By combining these principles, we sought to determine if retroperitoneal aortic surgery could be performed under epidural anesthesia and if this might be advantageous. Over a 16-month period, 57 patients underwent aortic surgery via the retroperitoneal (n=33) or transperitoneal (n=24) approach. In the former, epidural anesthesia was employed in 10 patients, general anesthesia in 3, and combined epidural anesthesia and general anesthesia in the remaining 20. In the transperitoneal group, general anesthesia was employed in 21 patients and combined epidural anesthesia and general anesthesia in 3. Both groups were similar in age and gender, but risk factors were predominant in the retroperitoneal group. With the exception of one death due to aspiration, there were no significant differences between the transperitoneal and retroperitoneal groups with respect to overall morbidity, pulmonary complications, and length of stay in the intensive care unit and hospital. Despite these findings, were favor the combination of epidural and general anesthesia for retroperitoneal aortic surgery. Morbidity was significantly decreased (p<0.05) in low-risk retroperitoneal patients when combined epidural anesthesia and general anesthesia were employed.