Patients with carotid artery occlusion and haemodynamic insufficiency have a high risk of stroke. Cerebral revascularization surgery improves cerebral blood flow, but it remains unclear whether this reduces the risk of stroke. This study assesses the long-term outcome of patients undergoing superficial temporal artery to middle cerebral artery (STA–MCA) bypass for symptomatic carotid occlusion. The long-term clinical follow-up and haemodynamic reserve, measured by 99Technetium single photon emission computed tomography (Tc99 SPECT) scan with acetazolamide challenge, were reviewed for 19 consecutive patients before and after STA–MCA bypass. The stroke rate after bypass surgery was 8% per year. In patients waiting for surgery, the stroke rate was 18% per year. Cerebral perfusion assessed with SPECT scan improved in 88% of patients. These results are consistent with the high risks of haemodynamic infarction in untreated patients and a benefit from revascularization surgery. The percentage annual stroke risk compares favourably with an 18% rate reported for patients with internal carotid artery occlusion and impaired cerebrovascular reserve.