During a 20-year period, 40 pregnancies were managed in 32 patients with a diagnosis of an incompetent cervix, a ratio of 1:775 deliveries. Diagnosis before development of symptoms produced a 92% fetal salvage, with 68% reaching 36 weeks of gestation. Development of symptoms before cerclage resulted in only a 40% fetal salvage. Fetal salvage was reduced in cases where membranes bulged beyond the cervix, the cervix was more than 3 cm dilated, or the gestational age was greater than 26 weeks at the time of suture placement. No difference was noted between the Shirodkar and McDonald procedures. Major complications included uterine rupture in three patients and acute chorioamnionitis in two. Because of complications, treatment is contraindicated based on history alone or where close follow-up is not available.