Objective: Conventional coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) is both safe and effective. Nevertheless, the use of cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB) and cardioplegic arrest are associated with several adverse effects. Over the last 2 years there has been a revival of interest in performing CABG on the beating heart. In this prospective randomized study we evaluated the efficacy and safety of on and off pump coronary revascularization on myocardial function. Methods: Eighty patients (65 males, mean age 61±9.7 years) undergoing first time CABG were prospectively randomized to: (i) conventional revascularization with CPB at normothermia and cardioplegic arrest with intermittent warm blood cardioplegia (on pump) or (ii) beating heart revascularization (off pump). Troponin I (Tn I) release was serially measured as a specific marker of myocardial damage. Haemodynamic measurements as well as inotropic requirement, incidence of arrhythmia and postoperative myocardial infarction were also recorded. Results: There were no significant differences between the two groups in terms of age, sex, extent of disease, left ventricular function and number of grafts. There were no deaths or intraoperative myocardial infarctions in either group. Tn I release was constantly lower in the off pump group and this was significant at 1, 4, 12 and 24 h postoperatively. Furthermore, in this group there was a significantly reduced incidence of arrythmias. Inotropic requirements were less in the off pump group but this did not reach statistical significance. Conclusion: These results suggest that off pump coronary revascularization is a safe and effective strategy for myocardial revascularization. Myocardial injury as assessed by Tn I release is also reduced when compared with conventional coronary revascularization with CPB and cardioplegic arrest.