In the 2-year period 1979-1980, 34 patients were assessed at Groote Schuur Hospital as candidates for heterotopic heart transplantation. Ischaemic heart disease was the most common underlying cause (19 patients), with cardiomyopathy (9), rheumatic heart disease (2), failed transplants (3), and endomyocardial fibrosis (1) as the other causes of myocardial disease. Five patients were not accepted into the transplant programme, 2 declined after being accepted, and in 3 the initial decision of acceptance was later reversed. Nine patients died while awaiting suitable donors, the mean survival time from the date of acceptance being only 26 days. Fifteen patients underwent heterotopic heart transplantation, 11 remaining alive at the end of the period of study; 8 had normally functioning donor hearts but 3 had suffered irreversible rejection and awaited a second transplant.