Polymer coatings have been suggested to decrease the thrombogenicity of metallic intravascular stents. The purpose of the present study was to investigate the intimal response to two different polymers when used as coatings for stents implanted in normal porcine coronary arteries. Non-articulated stainless steel-slotted tube stents were coated with either a biodegradable poly(organo)phosphazene with amino-acid ester side groups or a biostable polyurethane prepared from an amphiphilic polyether, dephenylmethane-4,4'-diisocyanate and butane diol as chain extender. In order to induce vascular wall injury, the stents were deployed using an oversized balloon. At 6 weeks follow-up, the angiographic luminal diameter measured in four polyurethane-coated stents and in six bare metallic stents was similar and 20% less than immediately post-stenting. However, in four polyphosphazene-coated stents the difference was 65% (P = 0.01 when compared to bare metal). At post-mortem morphometry the degree of luminal area stenosis was also similar in polyurethane-coated and in bare metallic stents (32 +/- 7.6% vs. 39 +/- 14%, NS) but reached 81 +/- 19% in polyphosphazene-coated stents (P < 0.03 when compared to bare metal). Thus, poly(organo)phosphazene induced a more pronounced histiolymphocytic and fibromuscular reaction than amphiphilic polyurethane, which appeared to be promising as biocompatible stent coating and, consequently, as a potential carrier for vasoactive drugs.