Human allogeneic heart transplantation was started at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town in 1967. Since then 110 hearts (61 heterotopic and 49 orthotopic) and 12 heart-lung transplantations have been performed in the unit. Ten procedures were retransplantations including 2 third interventions. The patients fall into three groups according to their immunosuppressive therapy: group A (N = 55) from 1967 to 1982 received the so-called 'conventional treatment' (azathioprine, methylprednisolone and antithymocyte globulin (ATG)); group B (N = 15) from 1983 to 1984 received cyclosporin A in high dosage, together with methylprednisolone; and group C (N = 30) received quadruple drug therapy of low-dose cyclosporin A, together with azathioprine, methylprednisolone in lower dosages and antithymocyte globulin (for the first 4-6 days and rescue-ATG for severe rejection). The results have improved significantly over the years. The actuarial survival rate after heart transplantation within the last 12 months is 94%. Several important steps have been inaugurated: in 1973 heterotopic heart transplantation was initiated and in 1984 hormonal therapy of brain-dead organ donors was started. Radionuclide scanning, in combination with endomyocardial biopsies, has proved to be a very sensitive means of monitoring rejection.