Injury can occur to several of the cranial nerves during carotid endarterectomy. Among these, glossopharyngeal nerve injury is an uncommon complication because it is remote from the field of dissection in most carotid procedures. From more than 2000 carotid operations four cases of symptomatic ninth cranial nerve injury were identified. Analysis revealed that dissection cephalad to the level of the hypoglossal nerve was a common feature of each and severe functional disability can result from glossopharyngeal nerve paresis. When mobilization of this nerve and division of the posterior belly of the digastric muscle and styloid process become necessary for additional exposure, the risk of glossopharyngeal nerve injury increases. Specific recommendations are made regarding management and maneuvers to help reduce the incidence of this uncommon, yet potentially serious, complication.