Objective: The objective of this study was to determine whether preincision use of an intra-aortic balloon pump improves survival and shortens postoperative length of stay in hemodynamically stable, high-risk patients undergoing coronary artery bypass grafting. Methods: A post hoc analysis of the Alabama CABG Cooperative Project database was performed by using propensity scores to model the likelihood of receiving a prophylactic preincision intra-aortic balloon pump. Every patient receiving a prophylactic preincision balloon pump was matched with another patient of similar propensity score who did not receive one. We then compared outcomes for matched pairs. Results: There were 7581 patients of whom 592 received a prophylactic preincision balloon pump. Patients with preoperative renal insufficiency, heart failure, or left main coronary artery disease, or who had undergone previous bypass grafting were significantly more likely to receive a prophylactic preincision balloon pump. By using propensity scores, we matched 550 patients who received a prophylactic preincision balloon pump with 550 who did not. Survival did not significantly differ by whether a prophylactic preincision balloon pump was used. However, surviving patients who received a preincision balloon pump had a significantly shorter postbypass length of stay (7 ± 7.3 days) than did matched patients not receiving a balloon pump (8 ± 6.2 days; P < .05). Conclusions: No survival advantage was found for use of a prophylactic intraaortic balloon pump in hemodynamically stable, high-risk patients undergoing bypass grafting, as opposed to placing a balloon pump on an 'as needed' basis during or after the operation. However, the patients receiving the balloon pump had improved convalescence as shown by significantly shorter length of stay.