Recombinant activated factor VII (rFVIIa) has been used at different doses in cardiac surgery patients. We tested the efficacy of small-dose rFVIIa in patients with intractable bleeding after cardiac surgery. The study group comprised 15 cardiac surgery patients with intractable bleeding treated with small-dose (1.2 mg) rFVIIa as a slow IV bolus at the end of complete step-by step transfusion protocol. Fifteen matched patients undergoing the same transfusion protocol in the pre-rFVIIa era represented the control group. Blood loss at the end of the transfusion protocol was a primary outcome. Median, 25th–75th 24-h blood loss percentiles were 1685 (1590–1770) mL versus 3170 (2700–3850) mL in study group and controls, respectively (P = 0.0004). Transfused red blood cells, fresh-frozen plasma, and platelets in the study group and controls were as follows: 7 (4–8) U versus 18 (12–21) U (P = 0.001); 7.5 (6–11) U versus 11 (9–15) U (P = 0.003); 0 (0–4) U versus 9 (6–13) U (P = 0.001). In addition, significant improvements of prothrombin time (P = 0.015), international normalized ratio (P = 0.006), activated partial prothrombin time (P = 0.01), and platelet count (P = 0.003) were detected in the study group versus controls. Finally, patients receiving rFVIIa showed a reduced intensive care unit length of stay (χ2 = 15.9, P = 0.0001) and had infrequent surgical re-exploration (χ2 = 16.2,P < 0.0001). Small-dose rFVIIa showed satisfactory results in cardiac patients with intractable bleeding. Further randomized studies are necessary to confirm our findings.