Abstract The Oxford International Symposium on myocardial preservation provided an appropriate milestone and impetus to survey one aspect of operative myocardial preservation, namely blood cardioplegia, and to contrast it with the more popular crystalloid cardioplegia. This review is by no means complete or exhaustive but represents my best effort to summarize important information that has accumulated in the literature as blood cardioplegia, and our understanding of it, has evolved. It is appropriate to compare blood and crystalloid cardioplegia with respect to biochemical and physiological differences. Clinical comparison has been limited, for the most part, to randomized studies, and a number of differences and details of clinical management of the two techniques have been omitted, either because they seemed unimportant or there was no good information that would allow an objective comparison of their significance. Hopefully, the reader will recognize the intent to focus on meaningful differences and similarities between the two techniques and to present them fairly.