This article, reflecting on the surgical recanalization of occluded peripheral arteries, has exposed the very essence of vascular surgery. Only the pioneering cardiac anomalies repaired by Gross (patent duct arteriosus, 1938), Blalock and Taussig (tetralogy of Fallot, 1944), and Crafoord and Nylin (coarctation, 1945) and the legendary aortic grafting operations of Oudot (occlusion, 1950) and Dubost and coworkers (aneurysm, 1951) are not a part of this article. The contributions to surgical recanalization of the occluded peripheral arteries are numerous. Some are well conceived, and others are innovative. Perhaps the most significant technique of all, endarterectomy itself, began purely as a serendipitous event. The startling impact of dos Santos' revolutionaly 'disobliteration' was realized at once. Intimal injury during the operation did not cause inevitable thrombosis, as historically taught. Thus, all vascular interventions, either endarterectomy, graft repair, or the newer endovascular techniques discussed in this issue, would not have been developed without the understanding of the tolerance of the human intima to injury. Thromboendarterectomy, the basis of surgical recanalization of occluded arteries, unlocked the mystery of arterial rethrombosis after intervention. Recognizing these crucial facts, it will have a lasting place in the expanded discipline of vascular disease and its treatment. Dos Santos, the European founder of endarterectomy, and Wylie, the American pioneer and proponent of endarterectomy, were great friends in life (Fig. 4) and would certainly be pleased to see the further development of technology aimed at the treatment of atherosclerotic obstruction of the peripheral arteries.