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The purpose of this study was to derive and validate a risk score for pneumonia (PNA) after cardiac surgery.Adults undergoing cardiac surgery between 2005 and 2012 were identified in a single-institution database. The primary outcome was postoperative PNA. Patients were randomly assigned to training and validation sets in a 3:1 ratio. A multivariable model was constructed incorporating univariate pre- and intraoperative predictors of PNA in the training set. Points were assigned to significant risk factors in the multivariable model based on their associated regression coefficients.A total of 6222 patients were included. The overall rate of postoperative PNA was 4.5% (n = 282). A 33-point score incorporating 6 risk factors (age, chronic lung disease, peripheral vascular disease, cardiopulmonary bypass time, intraoperative red blood cell transfusion, and pre- or intraoperative intra-aortic balloon pump) was generated. The model used to generate the score in the training set was robust in predicting PNA (c = 0.72, P < .001). Predicted rates of PNA increased exponentially with increasing risk score, ranging from 1.2% (score = 0) to 59% (score = 33). There was significant correlation between predicted rates of PNA based on the training cohort and actual rates of pneumonia in the validation cohort in weighted regression analysis (r = 0.74, P < .001). The composite score outperformed the STS prolonged ventilation model in predicting PNA in the validation cohort (c-index 0.76 vs 0.71, respectively).This 33-point risk score is strongly predictive of postoperative PNA after cardiac surgery. The composite score has utility in tailoring perioperative management and in targeting diagnostic and preventative interventions.