Background: Very few studies have examined quality of life longitudinally in heart failure patients from before to after heart transplantation. The purpose of this study was to compare quality of life of patients with heart failure at the time of listing for a heart transplant with that 1 year after the operation. Major dimensions of quality of life measured in this study were health, physical and emotional functioning, and psychosocial functioning. Methods: A convenience sample of 148 patients (80% male and mean age 52 years) was recruited from a midwestern and southern medical center. Data were collected from chart review and six patient- completed instruments: the Heart Transplant Symptom Checklist, Sickness Impact Profile, Heart Transplant Stressor Scale, Jalowiec Coping Scale, Quality of Life Index, and Rating Question Form. Informed consent was obtained, and patients who agreed to participate in the study completed the booklet of self-administered instruments. Statistical analyses included frequencies, measures of central tendency, paired t-tests, and Wilcoxon signed-ranks tests. Results: Total symptom distress decreased significantly overall from before to after heart transplantation (before = 0.19 versus 1 year after = 0.15, p < 0.0001). Patients rated themselves as having significantly poorer health while listed as a heart transplant candidate than at 1 year after surgery (before = 4.5 versus after = 7.5, p < 0.0001). Although the overall level of functional disability was fairly low before and 1 year after transplantation, patients still reported significant improvement after surgery (before = 0.21 versus 1 year after = 0.13, p < 0.0001). No significant differences were found in total stress, which was low to moderate (before = 0.26 versus 1 year after = 0.26, p = not significant), coping use (before = 0.48 versus 1 year after = 0.48, p = not significant), or coping effectiveness (before = 0.40 versus 1 year after = 0.42, p = not significant) from before to 1 year after heart transplantation. However, changes in types of symptoms, functional disability, stressors, and coping were noted over time. Overall satisfaction with life, which was fairly high at both time periods, increased significantly from the time of listing for a transplant to 1 year after surgery (before = 0.72 versus 1 year after = 0.82, p < 0.0001), and overall quality of life improved significantly from before to after heart transplantation (before = 5.5 versus 1 year after=7.8, p < 0.0001). Conclusions: End-stage heart failure patients had improved quality of life from before to I year after heart transplant due to less total symptom distress, better health perception, better overall functional status, more overall satisfaction with life, and improved overall quality of life. However, post-transplant patients still experienced some symptom distress, functional disability, and stress, but were coping well.