The management of unruptured intracranial aneurysms is controversial. Investigators from the International Study of Unruptured Intracranial Aneurysms aimed to assess the natural history of unruptured intracranial aneurysms and to measure the risk associated with their repair. Centres in the USA, Canada, and Europe enrolled patients for prospective assessment of unruptured aneurysms. Investigators recorded the natural history in patients who did not have surgery, and assessed morbidity and mortality associated with repair of unruptured aneurysms by either open surgery or endovascular procedures. 4060 patients were assessed-1692 did not have aneurysmal repair, 1917 had open surgery, and 451 had endovascular procedures. 5-year cumulative rupture rates for patients who did not have a history of subarachnoid haemorrhage with aneurysms located in internal carotid artery, anterior communicating or anterior cerebral artery, or middle cerebral artery were 0%, 2. 6%, 14 5%, and 40% for aneurysms less than 7 mm, 7-12 mm, 13-24 mm, and 25 mm or greater, respectively, compared with rates of 2 5%, 14 5%, 18 4%, and 50%, respectively, for the same size categories involving posterior circulation and posterior communicating artery aneurysms. These rates were often equalled or exceeded by the risks associated with surgical or endovascular repair of comparable lesions. Patients' age was a strong predictor of surgical outcome, and the size and location of an aneurysm predict both surgical and endovascular outcomes. Many factors are involved in management of patients with unruptured intracranial aneurysms. Site, size, and group specific risks of the natural history should be compared with site, size, and age-specific risks of repair for each patient.