Background. Recent scientific and clinical data suggest that chronic mechanical ventricular unloading may lead to myocardial recovery. Evaluating and monitoring patients for myocardial recovery and the optimal methods of weaning the left ventricular assist device are not well defined. Methods. Six patients with advanced heart failure and severe mitral regurgitation have undergone successful bridge to recovery using a Thoratec left ventricular assist device. Data that details their monitoring for myocardial recovery and weaning from the left ventricular assist device were prospectively collected. Results. Clinical data collected during the recovery phase included chest roentgenogram, echocardiography, plasma norepinephrine, tumor necrosis factor-α, bioimpedance, and cardiopulmonary exercise testing (peak oxygen consumption). Normalization of these variables with a 10% increase in the peak oxygen consumption was obtained before weaning. The Thoratec device rate and percent systole were manipulated to allow gradual reloading of the ventricle. The weaning process occurred for more than 5 to 10 days to allow time for observation of the ventricle and its response to the increasing workload. Conclusions. Select patients with advanced congestive heart failure and severe mitral insufficiency can benefit from mechanical device support. We describe our technique of monitoring for myocardial recovery using clinical variables. Our technique of weaning allows for gradual reloading of the ventricle and a longer period of observation before device removal. Additional research is needed to determine which variables will accurately predict long-term myocardial recovery and the optimal weaning method. © 2001 by The Society of Thoracic Surgeons.