In an attempt to modify the sequelae of cytomegalovirus (CMV) infections after lung transplantation, 25 allograft recipients were randomized to either ganciclovir 5 mg/kg once a day 5 d/wk (Group G) or acyclovir 800 mg four times a day (Group A). All subjects received ganciclovir during postoperative Weeks 1 through 3, and they were then given either A or G regimens until Day 90. At termination of study enrollment, the cumulative incidence of all CMV infections (including seroconversions) was increased in Group A compared with that in Group G (75% versus 15%, p < 0.01), as was the incidence of overt CMV shedding and/or pneumonitis (50% versus 15%, p < 0.043). In comparison with those in Group G, subjects in Group A were also afflicted with an increased prevalence of obliterative bronchiolitis (OB) during the first year after transplantation (54% versus 17%, p < 0.033). Intravenous catheters for ganciclovir administration resulted in four complications among three of the subjects in Group G (23%). The short-term benefits of ganciclovir were ultimately limited, moreover, in that cumulative rates of CMV and prevalence of OB are now similar in both treatment groups after approximately 2 yr of observation. We conclude that prolonged ganciclovir prophylaxis decreases the early incidences of CMV and OB among lung transplant recipients, but these effects are of finite duration. Although CMV prevention appears to have considerable potential value in this population, definitive viral prophylaxis will require development of protracted or repeated treatment regimens, or longer-acting agents.