Intraoperative thrombolysis was attempted in 31 acutely ischaemic legs after operative arteriography had demonstrated residual distal thrombus or occlusion following balloon‐catheter thromboembolectomy. There were 30 patients, 16 men and 14 women, aged 43–82 (median 73) years. The indication for operation was severe ischaemia with sensorimotor loss in 25 limbs, failed percutaneous thrombolysis in three and acute graft occlusion in three. A total of 21 perfemoral, 11 perpopliteal and four graft embolectomies were initially performed. Following arteriography, 100 000 units streptokinase was infused down the isolated distal arterial tree over 30 min and arteriography repeated. Complete lysis was achieved in 11 legs (35 per cent) and partial lysis in 12 (39 per cent). Additional procedures required included six operative angioplasties and six bypass grafts. After operation pedal pulses were restored in 14 limbs (45 per cent), with a viable leg in 23 cases (74 per cent) at the time of patient discharge or death. There were five wound haematomas but no evidence of systemic fibrinolysis. Four amputations were required, none in the group undergoing successful lysis, and there were seven deaths, five from cardiac disease. Arteriography after balloon‐catheter embolectomy is essential to detect residual thromboembolus and intraoperative streptokinase appears to be a safe and effective way of removing this.