Between September 1989 and December 1991, modified De Vega tricuspid annuloplasty was performed in 43 patients who survived surgery for mitral or mitral plus aortic valve replacement. The preoperative indications for tricuspid annuloplasty were moderate to severe tricuspid regurgitation (TR) in 33 patients and mild or no TR but with a dilated tricuspid annulus (> or =30 mm) as measured by 2-dimensional echocardiography at end-diastole in 10 patients. The mean age was 31 +/- 13 years. The mean duration of follow-up was 57 +/- 18 months. Overall long-term mortality was 12%. On Doppler color flow mapping, postoperative severe TR was present in 1 patient and moderate TR in 4 patients at latest follow-up. The tricuspid annulus diameter decreased from 37 +/- 5 mm preoperatively to 24 +/- 6 mm at latest follow-up. During the study period, an additional 77 patients underwent mitral valve replacement or double valve replacement, but without tricuspid annuloplasty. Within this group, 38 patients had a preoperative tricuspid annulus diameter of > or =30 mm, and 5 of these patients (13%) developed moderate or severe TR in the postoperative period, which may have been prevented had clinicians adhered to the preoperative indications for tricuspid annuloplasty. Thus, preoperative echocardiographically documented moderate or severe TR or a tricuspid annulus diameter of > or =30 mm are valid indications for performing tricuspid annuloplasty; modified De Vega tricuspid annuloplasty is a durable procedure in rheumatic patients; it appears that reducing the diastolic tricuspid annulus diameter to 24 mm is adequate to prevent residual TR in the long term.