This review considers the roles of endovascular and open surgery for critical lower limb ischemia. The TransAtlantic Inter-Society Consensus document offers sensible guidelines for the treatment of both suprainguinal and infrainguinal disease. For bilateral/diffuse suprainguinal disease, aortobifemoral bypass remains the best option, but great care should be taken in this new era of hospital-acquired infection. Unilateral iliac occlusions should be treated by primary stenting, but an iliofemoral or femorofemoral bypass may be the best option when the disease extends down into the common femoral artery. Stents may reduce the risk of embolization in iliac stenoses but probably confer no benefit in long-term patency. Iliac stenoses should be treated by angioplasty, with stents reserved for flow-limiting complications. Although infrainguinal bypass surgery is in decline, probably due to better medical treatment and more endovascular intervention, bypass using autologous saphenous vein remains the gold standard. In the absence of leg veins, arm vein should be considered. Prosthetic grafts should be used as a last resort, and only with a venous cuff. The long-term results of the Bypass Versus Angioplasty in Severe Ischemia of the Leg (BASIL) trial favor surgery rather than angioplasty if there is a good vein and the patient is fit. Further randomized studies of infrainguinal stenting vs bypass are required. Some patients with critical lower limb ischemia are best treated by analgesia or primary amputation.