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Clinical features and errors in diagnosis have been assessed in a retrospective study of 62 popliteal aneurysms in 40 patients, 22 of whom had bilateral aneurysms. Only 29% of patients complained of pain or swelling behind the knee, while 31% of aneurysms had produced distal ischaemia presenting as intermittent claudication, 9 aneurysms had thrombosed producing ischaemic rest pain in 6 legs, and 4 aneurysms had ruptured. Although 94% of aneurysms were suspected or confidently diagnosed by palpation alone, only 43% of patients had had the correct diagnosis made at the time of initial referral. Treatment was delayed in 12 patients, 8 of whom subsequently required amputation. Popliteal aneurysm should be suspected in patients with a prominent popliteal pulse who present with intermittent claudication, and in patients with acute ischaemia of the leg who may have a thrombosed aneurysm requiring surgical exploration.