The changes induced by continuous aortic cross-clamping in combination with multidose ice-cold St. Thomas Hospital cardioplegia (myocardial temperature below 16 degrees C), or intermittent aortic cross-clamping at 34 or 25 degrees C were evaluated in a randomized study on 72 patients undergoing extensive aorto-coronary bypass surgery. The cumulative release of heart-specific enzymes was very small and no marked ultrastructural changes in mitochondria of both the subepi- and the subendocardial layer of the left ventricular free wall occurred. No differences between the three operation techniques could be observed on the basis of the above-mentioned parameters. Myocardial ATP and glycogen contents were decreased in post-ischaemic tissue in both the normothermic and hypothermic intermittent aortic cross-clamp groups. This decrease was associated with a release of lactate and inorganic phosphate during the repetitive periods of reperfusion. No change in myocardial ATP and glycogen content could be observed in the cardioplegia-treated hearts. St. Thomas Hospital cardioplegia is obviously most effective in preventing changes in myocardial metabolism such as reduction of ATP and carbohydrate stores during the reversible phase of ischaemic insult.