21 studies reporting on at least 100 elderly patients were reviewed to assess the influence of patient age on outcome of isolated coronary artery bypass surgery. Elderly patients were variously defined as being older than 64, 69 or 74 years of age. They had significantly higher incidences of female sex, unstable angina, urgent surgery, extensive coronary disease, peripheral vascular disease and other risk factors, but left ventricular function was similar to younger patients. The number of grafts inserted and operation times were also similar. Operative mortality and multiorgan morbidity were significantly higher with advancing age. Late survival and relief of angina were generally good.