We examined the relation between postmenopausal estrogen placement therapy (ERT) and survival in 1,098 women who underwent coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG). Patients were selected for the study if their age was > or = 55 years at the time of preoperative coronary angiography or if they had previously undergone bilateral oophorectomy. Life-table analysis was used to compare survival after surgery in 92 women who received ERT and 1,006 women who did not. Five-year survival was 98.8% in the estrogen users and 82.3% in the non-users. Ten-year survival was 81.4% in the users and 65.1% in the nonusers (p = 0.0001 by Lee Desu test). The women who did not take estrogen were significantly older (p < 0.001), had more vessels with significant stenosis (p = 0.033), lower ejection fractions (p = 0.051), and more prior myocardial infarctions (p = 0.054). However, a Cox proportional-hazards model selected the number of coronary arteries narrowed (RR 1.43, p < 0.0001), estrogen use (RR 0.38, p = 0.001), left main coronary stenosis (RR 1.83, p = 0.001), and diabetes mellitus (RR 1.57, p = 0.003) as the significant independent predictors of survival. These data suggest that ERT improves survival significantly after CABG in postmenopausal women with coronary artery disease.