An alternate physiologic pulsatile pump (PPP) system was designed and evaluated to produce sufficient pulsatility during neonate-infant open heart surgery. This hydraulically driven pump system has a unique "dual" pumping chamber mechanism. The first chamber is placed between the venous reservoir and oxygenator and the second chamber between the oxygenator and patient. Each chamber has two unidirectional tricuspid valves. Stroke volume (0.2-10 ml), upstroke rise time (10-350 msec), and pump rate (2-250 beats per minute [bpm]) can be adjusted independently to produce adequate pulsatility. This system has been tested in 3-kg piglets (n = 6), with a pump flow of 150 ml/kg/min, a pump rate of 150 bpm, and a pump ejection time of 110 msec. After initiation of cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB), all animals were subjected to 25 minutes of hypothermia to reduce the rectal temperatures to 18 degrees C, 60 minutes of deep hypothermic circulatory arrest (DHCA), then 10 minutes of cold perfusion with a full pump flow, and 40 minutes of rewarming. During CPB, mean arterial pressures were kept at less than 50 mm Hg. Mean extracorporeal circuit pressure (ECCP), the pressure drop of a 10 French aortic cannula, and the pulse pressure were 67+/-9, 21+/-6, and 16+/-2 mm Hg, respectively. All values are represented as mean+/-SD. No regurgitation or abnormal hemolysis has been detected during these experiments. The oxygenator had no damping effect on the quality of the pulsatility because of the dual chamber pumping mechanism. The ECCP was also significantly lower than any other known pulsatile system. We conclude that this system, with a 10 French aortic cannula and arterial filter, produces adequate pulsatility in 3 kg piglets.