The establishment of an endothelial lining on vascular grafts to obtain a highly thromboresistant surface in a clinical situation requires optimization of cell collection, quality, adhesion and growth. We have studied the conditions for collection, seeding and growth of human saphenous vein endothelial cells (HSVEC), on Dacron or Gore-Tex expanded polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) vascular grafts. Carefully handled veins, as opposed to veins obtained using the usual procedures for coronary bypass graft preparation, yielded a higher rate of successful culture (94% vs 43%) and reached confluence in primary culture sooner (9.4 +/- 3 days vs 13.4 +/- 4.5 days). HSVEC were seeded at a density of 6 x 10(3) cells/cm2 on graft fragments coated with fibronectin (FN) or Transglutine (TGL), a biological glue. There was no HSVEC adhesion on Dacron or PTFE without protein pretreatment of the artificial surface. FN improved HSVEC adhesion but there was no cell growth. Adhesion, doubling time and cell density at confluence on PTFE pretreated with TGL were similar to those on conventional tissue culture polystyrene (TCP) pretreated with TGL or FN. HSVEC adhesion on Dacron pretreated with TGL was lower than on TCP pretreated with TGL; the doubling time was similar but the density at confluence was 40% lower. We conclude that pretreatment of vascular grafts with TGL, besides being an alternative to preclotting of the Dacron graft, allows adhesion and growth to confluence of HSVEC on these surfaces.