Background. Improvements in myocardial protection may include the continuous delivery of normothermic blood cardioplegia. Technical aids are required for optimal visualization of the operative field during the performance of coronary anastomoses if cardioplegia is to be given continuously or during minimally invasive operations. However, the effects of the different hemostatic devices on coronary endothelial function are unknown. Methods. We compared the effects on endothelial function of two commonly used hemostatic techniques, coronary clamping and gas jet insufflation, with those of a technique using extravascular balloon occlusion to mimic systolic luminal closure by the surrounding myocardium. The three techniques were applied for 15 minutes on porcine epicardial coronary arteries from explanted hearts. For coronary clamping, standard bulldog clamps were used. Gas jet insufflation was applied by blowing oxygen (12 L/min) tangentially at a 45-degree angle 1 cm away from a 3-mm arteriotomy. Extravascular balloon occlusion was achieved with a needle-tipped silicone loop, the midportion of which, once positioned beneath the coronary artery, was inflated to push a myocardial 'cushion' against the back of the vessel until its occlusion. Control rings were taken from the same coronary artery. The endothelial function of control and instrumented arterial rings was then studied in organ chambers filled with modified Krebs-Ringer bicarbonate solution. Results. Contractions to potassium chloride and prostaglandin F(2α) and endothelium-independent relaxation to sin-1, a nitric oxide donor, were unaffected in all groups. Endothelium-dependent relaxation to serotonin was impaired after clamping and preserved after gas jet insufflation and extravascular balloon occlusion. Maximal endothelium-dependent relaxation to serotonin was as follows: for coronary clamping, 63% ± 6% versus 87% ± 3% in controls; for gas jet insufflation, 67% ± 12% versus 88% ± 7%; and for extraluminal balloon occlusion, 79% ± 6% versus 85% ± 5%. Conclusions: Whereas commonly used hemostatic devices may impair endothelial function, extravascular balloon occlusion appears to achieve effective hemostasis while preserving endothelial integrity.