Pulsatile flow through the three-dimensional carotid artery bifurcation has been studied using the artificial-compressibility method. The part of the flow with large inertia bifurcates and creates a very steep velocity gradient on the divider walls. The flow near the nondivider walls slows down because of dilation of the cross section and strong adverse pressure gradient. The secondary flow in the bifurcation region, which is similar to the Dean vortex in a curved pipe, is strong and very complex. The region of separation is not closed for the cases of steady and pulsatile flow. The extent of this region is small and the streamlines are smooth except in the decelerating phase of systole. The change of common-internal bifurcation angle (25°+/- 15°) for fixed internal-external bifurcation angle of 50° has more effect on the shear on the bifurcation-internal carotid wall and less effect on the shear on the common-internal carotid wall. The mean wall shears are not sensitive to the input flow-rate waveform for constant mean flow, but the maximum wall shears are.