The effects of mild hypothermia (MH) were investigated. From 1995 to 1996, 28 adult patients with out-of-hospital cardiopulmonary arrest (CPA) had return of spontaneous circulation and survived for more than two days. Thirteen patients were in the MH group. In the MH group, core temperature was maintained between 33 and 34 degrees C for 48 h, and then re-warmed to a temperature of 37 degrees C, at a rate of no greater than 1 degrees C per day. Fifteen patients, admitted before the MH protocol was instituted, were in the control group. Despite the fact that the number of witnessed arrests in the control group were greater than in the MH group, there were both more survivors (7/13 vs. 5/15) and more fully recovered patients (3/13 vs. 1/15) in the MH vs Control groups. Eleven of 13 MH patients, as compared to 6/15 controls developed pneumonia. Our study, although preliminary, suggests that MH might confer improved outcome, as has been shown in animal models, after CPA. This treatment is associated with an increase in pneumonic complications.