Objectives.: This study sought to evaluate the role of intraaortic balloon pump counterpulsation in preventing hemodynamic instability and promoting a successful outcome during percutaneous transluminal coronary rotational atherectomy in high risk patients. Background.: The application of rotational atherectomy has widened to include patients with complex lesions and left ventricular dysfunction. Although intraaortic balloon pumping has been successfully used to provide hemodynamic support during balloon angioplasty, its role in high risk rotational atherectomy has not yet been defined. Methods.: In a retrospective review of 159 consecutive high risk patients who underwent rotational atherectomy, 28 had an intraaortic balloon pump placed electively before the procedure (Group 1) whereas 131 did not (Group 2). Results.: Group 1 was older and more likely to have multivessel disease and left ventricular dysfunction. Augmented diastolic pressure was maintained > 90 mm Hg in all Group 1 patients, and significant procedure-related hypotension was encountered in nine Group 2 patients, requiring an emergency intraaortic balloon pump in five. Procedural success was achieved in all 28 patients in Group 1 and in 118 in Group 2 (p = 0.07). Slow flow occurred in 18% and 17% of Group 1 and 2 patients, respectively. Among patients with slow flow, non-Q wave myocardial infarction occurred only in Group 2 (0% vs. 27%). On multivariate analysis, elective intraaortic balloon pump placement was the only variable to correlate with a successful procedure uncomplicated by hypotension (p < 0.05). Hospital stay and vascular complications were similar in both groups. Conclusions.: Elective placement of an intraaortic balloon pump before coronary rotational atherectomy in selected high risk patients promotes both procedural hemodynamic stability and a successful outcome.