Controversy exists regarding the suitability of fully developed versus measured inlet velocity profiles for image-based computational fluid dynamics (CFD) studies of carotid bifurcation hemodynamics. Here, we attempt to resolve this by investigating the impact of the reconstructed common carotid artery (CCA) inlet length on computed metrics of “disturbed” flow. Twelve normal carotid bifurcation geometries were reconstructed from contrast-enhanced angiograms acquired as part of the Vascular Aging—The Link That Bridges Age to Atherosclerosis study (VALIDATE). The right carotid artery lumen geometry was reconstructed from its brachiocephalic origin to well above the bifurcation, and the CCA was truncated objectively at locations one, three, five, and seven diameters proximal to where it flares into the bifurcation. Relative to the simulations carried out using the full CCA, models truncated at one CCA diameter strongly overestimated the amount of disturbed flow. Substantial improvement was offered by using three CCA diameters, with only minor further improvement using five CCA diameters. With seven CCA diameters, the amounts of disturbed flow agreed unambiguously with those predicted by the corresponding full-length models. Based on these findings, we recommend that image-based CFD models of the carotid bifurcation should incorporate at least three diameters of CCA length if fully developed velocity profiles are to be imposed at the inlet. The need for imposing measured inlet velocity profiles would seem to be relevant only for those cases where the CCA is severely truncated.