The most advantageous combination of immunosuppressive agents for cardiac transplant recipients has not yet been established. Between November 2001 and June 2003, 343 de novo cardiac transplant recipients were randomized to receive steroids and either tacrolimus (TAC) + sirolimus (SRL), TAC + mycophenolate mofetil (MMF) or cyclosporine (CYA) + MMF. Antilymphocyte induction therapy was allowed for up to 5 days. The primary endpoint of >/=3A rejection or hemodynamic compromise rejection requiring treatment showed no significant difference at 6 months (TAC/MMF 22.4%, TAC/SRL 24.3%, CYA/MMF 31.6%, p = 0.271) and 1 year (p = 0.056), but it was significantly lower in the TAC/MMF group when compared only to the CYA/MMF group at 1 year (23.4% vs. 36.8%; p = 0.029). Differences in the incidence of any treated rejection were significant (TAC/SRL = 35%, TAC/MMF = 42%, CYA/MMF = 59%; p < 0.001), as were median levels of serum creatinine (TAC/SRL = 1.5 mg/dL, TAC/MMF = 1.3 mg/dL, CYA/MMF = 1.5 mg/dL; p = 0.032) and triglycerides (TAC/SRL = 162 mg/dL, TAC/MMF = 126 mg/dL, CYA/MMF = 154 mg/dL; p = 0.028). The TAC/SRL group encountered fewer viral infections but more fungal infections and impaired wound healing. These secondary endpoints suggest that the TAC/MMF combination appears to offer more advantages than TAC/SRL or CYA/MMF in cardiac transplant patients, including fewer >/=3A rejections or hemodynamic compromise rejections and an improved side-effect profile.