The deleterious effect of steroids on bronchial healing in lung transplantation has led to the development of techniques to protect the anastomosis and to the exclusion of steroid-dependent patients from transplantation. The effect of steroids on bronchial healing was tested in a canine single-lung allotransplantation model. Twenty size-matched mongrel dogs (20 to 30 kg) underwent left lung transplantation without anastomotic wrap or direct revascularization. Postoperatively, all received daily doses of cyclosporine (15 mg/kg) and azathioprine (1 mg/kg) and were subdivided into three steroid dosage groups. Group A (n = 10) animals received 1.5 mg/kg of prednisone per day whereas groups B (n = 5) and C (n = 5) received 5.0 mg/kg of prednisone per day for 28 postoperative days. In addition, group C received prednisone (5.0 mg.kg-1.day-1) for 1 month preoperatively. In group A, 8 of 10 dogs survived 28 days without evidence of respiratory compromise, with anastomotic bursting pressure greater than 510 mm Hg. In group B, all 5 dogs survived to 28 days without evidence of respiratory compromise and with intact bronchial anastomoses (bursting pressures greater than 510 mm Hg). In group C, 3 of 5 animals survived to 28 days with intact anastomoses. Histological examination demonstrated normal bronchial healing in all anastomoses. These data suggest that preoperative steroid dependence should not be a contraindication to lung transplantation and that bronchial anastomotic wrapping with vascular tissue may not be essential.