This study was designed to look at the effect of a comprehensive teaching program on patient knowledge and compliance. Thirty patients who had had valve replacement surgery and 18 patients who had had coronary artery by-pass surgery were included in the study. Twenty-five of these patients were taught by masters-prepared clinical specialists and 23 by nurses with less than masters preparation. Measurements of knowledge and compliance were obtained preoperatively, at discharge, and during the first two postoperative visits. Findings included significant changes in knowledge scores from the preoperative test to the discharge test and stability in most scores from discharge to both postoperative visits. Compliance percentages were significantly higher than those reported for cardiac patients in a previous study. Patients taught by masters-prepared nurses had significantly higher test scores at discharge than did patients taught by nurses with less than masters preparation.