Between December 1967 and July 1987, 110 hart transplantations (61 heterotopic and 49 orthotopic) and 12 heart-lung transplantations were done at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town, South Africa. Twelve procedures were retransplantations, including two third interventions. The patients were divided into three groups: Group A (n = 55) from 1967 to 1982 received so-called conventional treatment of azathioprine, methylprednisolone, and antithymocyte globulin. Group B (n = 15) from 1983 to 1984 had cyclosporine in high dosages together with methylprednisolone. Group C (n = 30) received quadruple drug therapy of low-dosage cyclosporine, together with azathioprine, methylprednisolone in lower dosages, and antithymocyte globulin (for the first 4 to 6 days and rescue antithymocyte globulin for severe rejection). From Group A, nine of 55 patients are alive up to 17 years after transplantation. The main causes of death were acute rejections and infections (in 60% altogether). From group B, six of 15 patients are alive. Acute rejections and infections were the causes of death in 12% of the patients, but multiple organ failure was a major cause in 24% most probably because of the high dosages of cyclosporine. From Group C, 23 of 30 patients have survived. In this group the results after heterotopic heart transplantation do not differ significantly from orthotopic transplantation, which justifies this procedure in particular situations. If all heterotopic and orthotopic transplantations are compared, orthotopic procedures have a substantially better outcome. With the modified immunosuppressive regimen (group C) combined with precise donor and recipient selection and more sophisticated rejection monitoring, the actuarial survival rate within the last 12 months is 94%.