Intraoperative cell salvage of the cardiopulmonary bypass residual volume can dilute platelets and coagulation factors. This is a report of a randomised control trial of 20 patients undergoing coronary bypass surgery. Residual cardiopulmonary bypass volume was processed and transfused after surgery in the cell salvage group and the residual volume was transfused unprocessed in the control group. The coagulation profile was measured using the Rotem(®) thrombelastometry system. Mean (SD) maximum clot firmness after surgery was 52.8 (5.4) mm in the cell salvage group compared to 57.2 (5.0) mm in the control group (p=0.04). Clot formation time was prolonged after surgery by 39 (27) s in the cell saver group compared to 19 (17) s in the control group (p=0.045). Platelet count was reduced after surgery by 96 (32) x 10(9).L(-1) in the cell saver group and 70 (19) x 10(9).L(-1) in the control group (p=0.03). Blood volume in the chest drains 4 hours after surgery was similar in both groups. There was a strong association between clot formation time after surgery and blood loss (R = 0.68, p=0.001). The increase in blood loss was 4.1 ml for every one-second increase in clot formation time (95% CI 1.9 - 6.4, p=0.001). Cell salvage of the residual cardiopulmonary bypass volume reduced platelet numbers and prolonged clot formation time and maximum clot firmness was less in this group.