Cardiac transplantation now permits prolonged survival for some patients with otherwise fatal heart disease. This report summarizes the hemodynamic and clinical characteristics of 25 patients who have survived five or more years after cardiac replacement. The average age of the patients at the time of operation was 40 +/- 10 (SD) years; 23 were men. The average duration of survival is 6.7 years, and ranges from five to 10.5 years. Annual cardiac catheterization and clinical follow-up were performed to assess systolic cardiac function, coronary anatomy, and quality of extended rehabilitation. We found that among these long-term survivors, the left ventricular ejection fraction remained constant (0.59 +/- 0.08 one year postoperatively, 0.57 +/- 0.09 at most recent study, p = ns). Segmental wall motion measured by fluoroscopic examination of midwall intramyocardial markers also remained normal. Four of 21 (19%) patients with complete longitudinal studies developed significant graft coronary artery disease. Clinical evaluation revealed that the long-term survivors required fewer than one unscheduled admission to the hospital per year. Sixteen of 25 patients (64%) were gainfully employed, and 22 of 25 (88%) enjoyed substantial benefit in terms of extended rehabilitation. These 25 long-term survivors represent 27% of 92 patients transplanted between 1968 and 1975. The actuarial survival rate at five years, of patients transplanted since 1975, is 40 +/- 5%. This increase in survival rate reflects improved techniques of early postoperative management. Cardiac transplantation now offers prolonged survival with good quality of life for selected patients with terminal heart disease.