Background The most encountered complications with intra-aortic balloon pump (IABP) use are seen within the vascular system. The purpose of our study is to evaluate vascular complications of the sheathless IABP in patients undergoing open heart surgery. Methods Between January 2002 and December 2011, a total of 148 patients undergoing open heart surgery and needed IABP support were included in the study. All vascular complications related with IABP were recorded. Results Mean age of the patients was 64.4 +/- 9.4 years. Total 104 (70.2%) were male and 44 (29.8%) were female. Total number of patients who had ischemic complications of the extremity was 13 (8.7%). The most used surgical treatment was embolectomy in five patients. Only one patient required an iliofemoral bypass. Above the knee amputation was performed in one patient. No balloon-related mortality occurred. Conclusion Incidence of vascular complications in IABP counterpulsation is still a problem despite improvements in catheter design and techniques. The presence of peripheral arterial disease and diabetes mellitus is important risk factors for ischemic complications.