Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld underwent shoulder surgery Tuesday to repair a torn rotator cuff, officials said.

Eric Ruff, the Pentagon press secretary, said Rumsfeld, 74, had the surgery on his left shoulder at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington. He described it as elective surgery that was scheduled weeks in advance.

Rumsfeld did not undergo general anesthesia for the procedure, Ruff said. Some of the defense secretary's responsibilities were transferred briefly to the deputy defense secretary, Gordon England, Ruff said.

After the nearly two-hour operation, Rumsfeld was resting at the hospital and may be kept overnight, Ruff said.

"He's fine. He's recovering," the spokesman said.

The rotator cuff is a group of four tendons that help stabilize and move the shoulder. Each of the four tendons connects a muscle from the shoulder blade to the upper part of the arm bone, known as the humerus.

Tears in the rotator cuff can be caused by injury or by weakening of the tendon from wear and tear. Ruff said Rumsfeld's cuff tear was caused by "an old athletic injury."