This study examines the long-term frequency of reoperative coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) and percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA) after CABG. The source of data was the clinical database at Emory University Hospitals. The population comprised 3,480 patients undergoing a first CABG between 1978 and 1981. Event-free survival was determined using the Kaplan-Meier method and determinants of survival with the Cox proportional-hazards model. The in-hospital mortality was 1.0% and 5-, 10- and 12-year survival was 91, 78 and 70%. The 5-, 10- and 12-year freedom from reoperative CABG was 98, 88 and 80%. The 5-, 10- and 12-year freedom from PTCA was 98, 91 and 85%. The 5-, 10- and 12-year freedom from either CABG or PTCA was 96, 81 and 69%. Younger patients had much higher incidences of repeat procedures. The yearly incidence of repeat procedures accelerated over time. These data reveal the ultimately palliative nature of revascularization for coronary artery disease.