The authors identify 39 common preoperative stressors found in 175 heart transplant candidates from two medical centers. Relevance of the 10 worst and 10 least stressors during the preop wait is discussed. The 10 worst stressors were finding out about the need for a transplant, having end-stage heart disease, family worrying, illness symptoms, waiting for a donor, uncertainty about the future, no energy for leisure activities, constantly feeling worn out, less control over life, and dependency on others. The impact of transplant waiting time on the perceived stressfulness of illness factors is also examined. One factor was more stressful for those waiting longer than the median time of 1 month; 16 factors were more stressful for those waiting less than 1 month. The novelty or familiarity of the factor seemed to influence the stressfulness ratings of many variables during the period of waiting for the transplant. © 1993 College health All right reserved.