Complications related to percutaneous placement of intra-aortic balloon pump counterpulsation are still high despite major refinements in catheter design and techniques. One hundred and forty-eight patients in whom intra-aortic balloon pumping was inserted were classified into two groups on the basis of the insertion technique. Group I included 103 patients in whom the conventional percutaneous insertion was used. A sheathless insertion technique was used in group II (n = 45), The overall complication rate was 16.6% (25 of 150), in which lower limb ischaemia was the most common complication. The limb ischaemia was noted in 12 patients (11.5%) in group I and 4 patients (8.9%) in group II (statistically not significant). Peripheral vascular disease, diabetes mellitus and female gender were found to be significant predictors of limb ischaemia (p = 0.01, p = 0.02 and p = 0.03, respectively). In conclusion, sheathless insertion of intra-aortic balloon pump catheters does not reduce the incidence of limb ischaemia.