Data regarding 2176 endomyocardial biopsies (EMB) (Nov. '85-Dec. '89) performed in 164 transplanted hearts (4 etherotopic) from 158 patients (6 retransplants) are herein reported. This study was aimed to evaluate: 1) Incidence and characteristics of early ischemic myocardial damage. 2) The influence of different immunosurveillance protocols on incidence, degree and aggressiveness of acute rejection and the inflammatory infiltrate composition. 3) The immunophenotype of infiltrating cells in moderate acute rejection episodes. 4) HLA-DR antigen expression on myocyte sarcolemma. 5) Characterization of cells expressing immune response mediators. 6) Myocardial localization of opportunistic infections. 7) Useful information on chronic rejection. Our results demonstrate that: a) Mild rejection seldom progresses to moderate degree. b) Different immunosuppressive protocols can influence the incidence of acute rejection: in fact, in OKT3 protocol, the incidence of rejection episodes is higher than in other protocols as well as aggressiveness toward myocytes. c) Infiltrating cells maintain T lymphocyte prevalence with minor amounts of B lymphocytes and macrophages in the 3 different protocols. T cell subset characterization showed a slight prevalence of CD8 bearing cells over CD4 positive cells whereas CD57 cells were few and scattered. d) Class II Major Histocompatibility Complex (HLA-DR) expression never occurs on myocyte sarcolemma. e) TNF alpha is expressed in acute cardiac rejection by immunologically activated T lymphocytes and macrophages and the number of immunoreactive cells increases with progression of the rejection. f) Human cytomegalovirus infections can be primary or recurrent. Myocardial involvement has been observed in primary forms. Virus can affect endothelial cells (with no inflammatory reaction) or myocytes (myocarditis) and its diagnosis requires a combination of immunohistochemical and molecular biology techniques. Diagnosis of Toxoplasma gondii infection can be usually accomplished by routine histopathological study. g) Chronic rejection diagnosis is rarely based on biopsy derived information.