Purpose: Over the past 20 years, there have been numerous advances in our ability to detect and to treat abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAAs). We hypothesized that these advances would lead to (1) an increase in the rate of elective repair and a decrease in the incidence of ruptured AAA (rAAA) and (2) a decrease in operative deaths for both elective AAA (eAAA) and rAAA. Methods: To test these hypotheses, we investigated the incidence and outcomes of eAAA and rAAA surgery between 1979 and 1997, using the National Hospital Discharge Survey. This data set is a randomized, stratified sample representing discharges from the nation's acute care, nonfederally funded hospitals. Codes from the International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision were used to identify our study population. Results: Over the past 19 years, there has been no change in the incidence rate of eAAA repair (range, 44.1-77.9 per 100,000). Moreover, the incidence of rAAAs presenting to the nation's hospitals has not changed (range, 6.6-16.3 per 100,000). There has been no consistent improvement over time in operative deaths associated with either eAAA or rAAA repair (average rates over the study period: eAAA, 5.6%; rAAA, 45.7%). Significant predictors of death from eAAA in patients included an age older than 80 years, African American race, congestive heart failure (CHF), and diabetes (P < .0001 for all). Significant predictors of death from rAAA in patients included age older than 70 years, African American race, female sex, renal failure, and a hospital bed size more than 500 (P < .05 for all). Conclusion: On a national level, over the past 19 years, our ability to identify and to treat patients with AAA has not improved. Advances in technology and critical care have not affected outcome. Regionalization of care, screening of high-risk populations, and endovascular repair are strategies that might allow further improvement in the outcome of patients with aneurysmal disease.