Explant cultures of porcine coronary artery provided a coculture model, used as a paradigm of arterial wall in contact with vascular prosthesis which allowed the study of spatial and temporal changes in cell phenotype. First cells emerging from the explant had an endothelial phenotype monitored by cytoimmunostaining. Percentages of anti-smooth muscle alpha-actin labelled cells were assessed at early and late phase by flow cytofluorometric analysis to control the effect of heparin. At 100 mug ml(-1), no effect on alpha-actin labelled cell growth has been detected. This result contrasted with the inhibition of monolayer cell cultures. At 500 mug ml(-1), the proliferation of smooth muscle cells was reduced. This explant system should be useful for testing drugs susceptible to interfere with restenosis.