Although the temporary inferior vena cava filter (IVC-F) is being used increasingly for protection against pulmonary thromboembolism (PTE), indications for its use are not established. Our strategy for the prevention of PTE is: (1) contraindication or failure of anticoagulation: permanent IVC-F; (2) for patients with residual proximal deep vein thrombosis (a) who have permanent risk factor: permanent IVC-F; (b) who have transient risk factor: temporary IVC-F; (3) others: no IVC-F. Temporary IVC-F was also implanted in deep vein thrombosis (DVT) patients without PTE who were preoperation or had floating thrombus. We investigated the outcome of patients given a temporary IVC-F versus those given a permanent IVC-F to clarify the efficacy and our strategy for implantation of a temporary IVC-F. Subjects were 12 men and 38 women with acute PTE and/or floating DVT admitted to our hospital between April 1999 and April 2002. Patient age was 25–91 years (mean 63 years). Eighteen patients were given a permanent IVC-F (group A) and 32 patients were given a temporary IVC-F (group B) as primary treatment, according to our criteria. There were no major complications in either group. Mortality after implantation of the IVC-F was 35% (6/17) in group A and 16% (4/25) in group B, with no significant difference (P = 0.14). Pulmonary thromboembolism recurred in 18% (3/17) of group A patients but in no group B patients (P = 0.10). All recurrences resulted in death. The 14 patients in group B who were not given a permanent IVC-F after removal of the temporary IVC-F survived. The temporary IVC-F can be used safely in patients with venous thromboembolism and is efficacious in preventing recurrence of PTE. Prognosis after removal of the temporary IVC-F is excellent.