The effect of acadesine, an adenosine-regulating agent, on the incidence of myocardial infarction, all adverse cardiovascular outcomes (myocardial infarction, cardiac death, left ventricular dysfunction, life-threatening arrhythmia, or cerebrovascular accident) and mortality was assessed in 821 patients undergoing coronary artery bypass grafting. Patients were prospectively stratified to a high-risk group (age >70 years, unstable angina, previous coronary bypass, unsuccessful angioplasty, or ejection fraction <30%) or a non-high-risk group. They were randomized in a double-blind manner to placebo (n = 418) or acadesine (n = 403) by intravenous infusion over 7 hours (0.1 mg/kg per minute) and in the cardioplegic solution (placebo or acadesine; 5 μg/ml). Acadesine did not significantly affect the incidence of myocardial infarction in the overall study population, but it significantly reduced the incidence of Q-wave myocardial infarction in high-risk patients (placebo, 19.7% acadesine, 10.0% p = 0.032). The incidences of all adverse cardiovascular outcomes (placebo, 19.4%; acadesine, 18.4%) and overall mortality (placebo, 3.4%; acadesine, 2.7%) were similar between the two treatment groups. However, acadesine reduced the incidence of cardiac related events that contributed to deaths occurring during the first 3 postoperative days so that the incidence of death in this period was lower (placebo, 1.9%; acadesine, 0.2%; p = 0.038). No adverse events were related to acadesine treatment. Although overall there were no statistically significant between-group differences for the primary study end points, a secondary analysis in a prospectively defined high-risk subgroup suggests that acadesine may be beneficial in some patients. © 1995 Mosby-Year Book, Inc.