Congestive heart failure (CHF) is a chronic, progressive disease and its central element is the remodeling of the cardiac chamber associated with ventricular dilatation. Secondary mitral regurgitation is a complication of end-stage cardiomyopathy and is associated with a poor prognosis. It is due to progressive mitral annular dilatation and alteration in the geometry of the left ventricle. A vicious cycle of continuing volume overload, ventricular dilatation, progression of annular dilatation, increased left ventricular wall tension and worsening mitral regurgitation and CHF occurs. The mainstays of medical therapy are diuretics and afterload reduction, which are associated with poor long-term survival in these patients. Historically, the surgical approach to patients with mitral regurgitation was mitral valve replacement, but these patients were not considered operative candidates because of their high morbidity and mortality. Heart transplantation is now considered standard treatment for select patients with end-stage heart disease; however, it is applicable only to a small number of patients. Mitral valve replacement in these patients is associated with adverse consequences on left ventricular systolic function resulting from interruption of the annulus-papillary muscle continuity. Preserving the mitral valve apparatus and left ventricle in mitral valve repair enhances and maintains left ventricular function and geometry with an associated decrease in wall stress. Using these operative techniques to alter the shape of the left ventricle, in combination with optimal medical management for heart failure, improves survival and may avoid or postpone transplantation.