In 1980 we described bilateral pulmonary thromboendarterectomy with median sternotomy, cardiopulmonary bypass, deep hypothermia, and circulatory arrest for the relief of pulmonary hypertension caused by chronic pulmonary embolism. In our subsequent experience, which totals 41 patients, we have identified three groups of patients characterized by differences of intraoperative management. In Group A (N = 16) myocardial protection consisted of single-dose crystalloid cardioplegia followed by pericardial irrigation with cold saline. Extrapericardial dissection of the pulmonary arteries was performed. Group B (N = 7) was treated the same as Group A except for the substitution of saline slush contained in a laparotomy pad for iced saline. In Group C (N = 18) myocardial protection was single-dose blood cardioplegia followed by the application of a specially designed cooling jacket to the right and left ventricles. Another modification was that of intrapericardial dissection of the pulmonary arteries with extension of the dissection into the hilar tissues without entrance into the pleural spaces. The hospital mortalities of Groups A, B, and C were 18.7%, 14.3%, and 5.5%, respectively (not statistically significant differences). However, other statistically significant differences (p less than 0.05) among the groups were observed: Phrenic nerve paresis occurred in five of seven (71%) Group B patients but in no Group A or C patients; Group B patients required ventilatory support for 32.2 days compared with 8.4 days for Group A and 6.2 days for Group C; time in the intensive care unit was 36 days for Group B patients versus 13 for Group A and 10.3 for Group C; pulmonary vascular resistance decreased 59% (649 versus 259) intraoperatively in 13 patients in Group C. We believe simultaneous bilateral pulmonary thromboendarterectomy with median sternotomy, cardiopulmonary bypass, deep hypothermia with circulatory arrest, and the modified methods of myocardial preservation and dissection represent current optimal surgical management of this problem.