The transradial approach has currently been advocated as an alternative catheterization method for coronary angiography and angioplasty, due to the recent miniaturization of angioplasty equipment. The purpose of this study was to assess the practical clinical applicability of this method. From June to November 1994, 100 patients underwent coronary angiography and angioplasty with the transradial approach. Their mean age was 66.6 +/- 11.2 years, and 79 were men. In 4, radial puncture was not successful, and in 3, femoral access was necessary to complete the procedure. Coronary angioplasty was performed in 63 patients (76 lesions) with angiographic success (per lesion) of 96%. In 5 patients, a stent was successfully implanted. All patients were ambulatory on the day after the angioplasty procedure. In 98% of the patients, the introducer was taken out 1 to 4 hours after the procedure by local compression using a special custom-made device. No patient required blood transfusion. Major complications occurred in 2 patients; both had a cerebrovascular accident (1 probably not procedure-related), and both recovered. A radial pulse was palpated in 91 of the patients before discharge, and in 6 others, adequate flow could be heard with Doppler. In 2 patients, radial flow was restored within several weeks. None of the patients suffered from ischemia of the hand. Two patients had a small pseudoaneurysm successfully treated by local compression. Thus, coronary angioplasty can be performed safely using the transradial approach with relatively few vascular complications and with better patient comfort. However, the procedure is more time-consuming initially compared with the transfemoral approach due to a learning curve regarding equipment selection and catheter manipulation.