Coronary wedge pressure is the pressure recorded distal to a stenosis while the inflated balloon occludes the coronary artery during angioplasty. This pressure has been shown to reflect actual (visible) and potential (recruitable) collateral flow to the stenosed artery, distal to the angioplasty site. In 100 consecutive vessels (91 patients) for which coronary wedge pressure had been measured at the time of angioplasty, the long-term (7 +/- 3 months) angiographic results was evaluated. The overall angiographic restenosis rate was 37%. It was 52% (25 of 48) in arteries with a coronary wedge pressure greater than or equal to 30 mm Hg and 23% (12 of 52) in arteries with a coronary wedge pressure less than 30 mm Hg (p less than 0.01). The mean coronary wedge pressure was 30 +/- 10 mm Hg for vessels with restenosis and 26 +/- 9 mm Hg for those without restenosis (p less than 0.01). The prevalence of angiographically visible collateral flow was 42% and 29%, respectively (p = NS). Neither age, sex, presence of unstable angina, left ventricular function, number of diseased vessels nor initial and final transstenotic pressure gradient and degree of stenosis were significantly associated with the long-term outcome after angioplasty. Restenosis rate is significantly increased when coronary wedge pressure measured at the time of angioplasty is high (greater than or equal to 30 mm Hg). This suggests a negative influence of competitive collateral flow on long-term results of angioplasty.