A new type of left handed microstrip lines implemented by means of complementary split-ring resonators (CSRRs) is proposed. The CSRRs are etched on the signal strip alternating with series gaps. Additionally, shunt connected stubs are introduced for the first time to the previous structure. The combination of these three elements, that is, the series gaps, the CSRR and the shunt inductance, enhances design flexibility. By this means, the ground plane is left unaltered and narrow band artificial transmission lines with good performance and compact dimensions can be synthesised. The lumped element equivalent circuit model of the structure is proposed and validated. To demonstrate the applicability of these new left handed transmission lines, two compact microwave components have been designed and fabricated: (i) a narrow band power divider and (ii) a band pass filter. The resulting power divider is 75 smaller than the conventional implementation and 50 smaller than previous power dividers implemented by means of CSRRs. The band pass filter performance is comparable to that of previous CSRR-based filters with ground plane etching, whereas its size is smaller. This work represents a significant progress on the design of microwave components based on CSRRs, that is, the approach is opened to those systems where the ground plane cannot be etched. © The Institution of Engineering and Technology 2008.