During a period of 94 months between 1985 and 1993, 474 hepatic resections were performed in 451 patients, of whom 23 (5 per cent) had cardiac problems: ischaemic heart disease in 16 (previous myocardial infarction in five and angina pectoris in 11), arrhythmic disorders in three, valvular disease in three (previous mitral valve replacement in two) and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy in one. The cardiac patients had a higher incidence of cardiac complications (24 versus 0 per cent, P< 0·0001) including two myocardial infarctions, and of non-cardiac complications consisting of postoperative liver failure (16 versus 4 per cent, P<0·01) and bile leak (16 versus 5 per cent, P = 0·02), as well as hospital death (16 versus 3 per cent, P< 0·001). However, long-term survival was similar in the two groups. Patients with preoperative cardiac conditions appear to be at increased risk for early postoperative morbidity and mortality after hepatic resection.