The effect of colforsin daropate hydrochloride (colforsin), a water-soluble forskolin derivative, on blood flow in internal mammary artery (IMA) grafts was evaluated in a prospective randomized study of 26 patients undergoing coronary artery bypass grafting. Patients were randomized to receive either colforsin treatment (colforsin; n=14) or no colforsin treatment (control; n=14). Administration of colforsin (0.5mg x kg(-1) min(-1)) was started after induction of anesthesia and was continued for 6 h. IMA blood flow and hemodynamic measurements were assessed perioperatively. During cardiopoulmonary bypass (CPB), perfusion flow was adjusted to 2.5 L/m2 and IMA free blood flow was measured. IMA blood flow was also measured 1 h after CPB by an ultrasonic flow meter. Systemic vascular resistance was significantly lower in the colforsin group during and after CPB. IMA blood flow was significantly greater in the colforsin group than in the control group during (44 +/- 2 vs 33 +/- 3 ml min-1 x m(-2), p=0.02) and after CPB (38 +/- 6 vs 20 +/- 3ml x min(-1) m(-2), p=0.01). IMA blood flow 1 h after CPB correlated inversely with concurrent systemic vascular resistance (r=-0.61, p=0.001). Intraoperative administration of colforsin daropate hydrochloride caused potent vasodilation, resulting in an increase in IMA blood flow. The results indicate that the regimen can be used perioperatively in patients undergoing coronary artery bypass grafting.