PURPOSE To compare health-related quality of life outcomes in a cohort of abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) patients treated concurrently with either a conventional or endoluminal intervention. METHODS Between December 1997 and April 1999, 51 AAA patients treated by either open or endovascular techniques were enrolled in this prospective study. Conventional therapy was performed in 26 patients (19 men; mean age 70.4 +/- 6.0 years) with anatomical features unsuitable for the endovascular approach. Twenty-five patients (23 men; mean age 70.7 +/- 7.2 years) underwent endoluminal AAA exclusion using either the Ancure or bifurcated Enduring stent-grafts. The Medical Outcomes Study Short-Form 36-item health survey was administered preoperatively and at 1, 4, 8, and > or = 52 weeks after discharge. RESULTS At 1 week, both groups showed significant reductions (p < 0.001) in mean scores compared to baseline in 4 dimensions (physical function, social function, role-physical, and vitality), but the decline was more pronounced in patients having open repair. Endoluminal patients returned to their baseline scores by the 4th postoperative week, whereas complete recovery to baseline in the conventional patients was delayed to the 8th week. CONCLUSIONS Patients treated endoluminally exhibit better physical and functional scores as early as 1 week after discharge; they also return to baseline status significantly earlier than the conventional group. These findings document the perceived advantage of endovascular therapy over conventional AAA treatment.