Background: We compared one-year amputation and survival rates in patients fulfilling 1991 European consensus critical limb ischaemia (CLI) definition to those clas, sified as CLI by TASC II but not European consensus (EC) definition. Patients and methods: Patients were selected from the COPART cohort of hospitalized patients with peripheral occlusive arterial disease suffering from lower extremity rest pain or ulcer and who completed one-year follow-up. Ankle and toe systolic pressures and transcutaneous oxygen pressure were measured. The patients were classified into two groups: those who could benefit from revascularization and those who could not (medical group). Within these groups, patients were separated into those who had CLI according to the European consensus definition (EC + TASC II: group A if revascularization, group C if medical treatment) and those who had no CLI by the European definition but who had CLI according to the TASC II definition (TASC: group B if revascularization and D if medical treatment). Results: 471 patients were included in the study (236 in the surgical group, 235 in the medical group). There was no difference according to the CLI definition for survival or cardiovascular event-free survival. However, major amputations were more frequent in group A than in group B (25 vs 12 %, p = 0.046) and in group C than in group D (38 vs 20 %, p = 0.004). Conclusions: Major amputation is twice as frequent in patients with CLI according to the historical European consensus definition than in those classified to the TASC II definition but not the EC. Caution is required when comparing results of recent series to historical controls. The TASC II definition of CLI is too wide to compare patients from clinical trials so we suggest separating these patients into two different stages: permanent (TASC II but not EC definition) and critical ischaemia (TASC II and EC definition).