From Feb. 1, 1972, to Jan. 30, 1984, 1,000 patients had isolated coronary bypass with at least one internal mammary artery, and 103 of them had bilateral internal mammary artery grafts. There were 1,395 associated vein grafts and 1,158 internal mammary artery anastomoses, for a total of 2,556 grafts (2.5 per patient). Patients were followed up for 1 to 12 years (mean 6.3 years) and 77 patients were lost to follow-up at a mean of 4.0 years. Operative mortality was 1.4%, with 11 of 14 deaths in the first 240 patients (4.6%) and eight of 14 in the 103 patients with bilateral internal mammary artery grafts. There were 93 late deaths, with an actuarial survival rate of 93% at 5 years and 84% at 10 years. Angina occurred at a mean rate of 6.2% +/- 1.2% per year. Perioperative infarction was detected in 37 patients (3.7%). Late infarction occurred in 75 patients, for a mean rate of 1.5% +/- 0.3% per year. Reoperation (or percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty) was necessary in 35 patients, for a mean rate of 0.85% +/- 0.28% per year. Graft patency was assessed by 1,029 follow-up catheterizations in 519 patients. The patency rate of the left internal mammary artery was 96.4% at 1 year, 88.1% at 5 years, and 88.1% at 10 years. That of the right internal mammary artery was 92.8% (p = NS) at 1 year, 84.6% (p = NS) at 5 years, and at 10 years the numbers were too small to be meaningful. Comparison of patency rates for all internal mammary artery grafts with vein grafts gave 1 year graft patency rates of 95.7% versus 93.4% (p less than 0.025), 5 year rates of 87.9% versus 74.0% (p less than 0.001), and 10 year rates of 83.0% versus 41.0% (p less than 0.001). Included in these patency data are 20 free internal mammary artery grafts; 16 were studied (mean 2.3 years) and 12 of these 16 (75%) were patent. Of the 58 sequential internal mammary artery grafts, 18 were studied by catheterization (mean interval 2.0 years); 35 of 36 anastomoses were patent and one end-to-side anastomosis was closed. Morbidity and mortality for patients having internal mammary artery grafting are comparable to those of patients having saphenous vein bypass only. The demonstrated superior patency for internal mammary artery grafts supports the routine use of bilateral internal mammary artery grafting.