Atheromatous lesions of the proximal vertebral artery and the subclavian artery may lead to ischaemic manifestations, occasionally with severe consequences in the vertebro-basilar territory. These transient ischaemic attacks are most often caused by haemodynamic insufficiency rather than thrombo-embolic complications addressed by anticoagulant and antiaggregant treatments. In this study, 8 cases of veretebro-basilar ischaemia (VBI), secondary to subclavian and proximal vertebral artery lesions, are reported. Surgical techniques, subclavian-to-subclavian artery by-pass (5 cases) and vertebral to common carotid artery transposition (3 cases) are described with their respective results. Through a review of the literature, the various operative modalities are discussed in the different pathological conditions of the proximal extracranial vertebro-basilar disease. It appears that the subclavian to subclavian artery by-pass as well as the vertebral-to-common carotid artery transposition are safe surgical procedures with strikingly low morbidity and mortality rates. The widely achieved relief of the ischaemic episodes, undoubtedly makes this surgery an alternative to medical treatment.