A review of the histopathologic features of serial biopsies and excised grafts of 117 experimental and clinical cardiac allografts and xenografts revealed a common sequence in the development of histopathologic changes in grafts showing antibody-mediated (hyperacute and acute vascular) rejection. Based on these observations, we propose the new concept that thrombosis of cardiac veins and venules is the initial key event in antibody-mediated rejection. This is followed by the development of congestion in the subtended venules and capillaries accompanied by interfascicular and, later, intermyocyte edema. Subsequently, focal or diffuse interstitial hemorrhage affecting the subendocardium, extending sometimes to involve the inner half of the ventricular myocardium, is observed. Antibody-mediated rejection therefore appears to be analogous to incomplete venous infarction of the heart. The observed histopathology (in which venular thrombosis plays a key role) favors a thrombogenic basis for the classical features of antibody- mediated rejection, namely edema, vascular thrombi and interstitial hemorrhage. A key role for venular thrombosis would explain the non-uniform distribution of the changes and may suggest new ways of preventing antibody- mediated xenograft rejection.