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The substantial interpatient variability in heparin requirement has led to the use of a heparin dose response (HDR) technique. The accuracy of Hepcon-based heparin administration in achieving a target activated clotting time (ACT) using an HDR slope remains controversial.We prospectively studied 86 adult patients scheduled for cardiac surgery requiring cardiopulmonary bypass. The total dose of calculated heparin required for patient and pump priming was administered simultaneously to achieve a target ACT of 450 s for HDR on the Hepcon HMS system. Blood samples were obtained after the induction of anesthesia, at 3 min after heparin administration and after the initiation of CPB to measure kaolin ACT, HDR slope, whole-blood heparin concentration based on the HDR slope and anti-Xa heparin concentration, antithrombin and complete blood count.The target ACT of 450 s was not achieved in 68.6% of patients. Compared with patients who achieved the target ACT, those who failed to achieve their target ACT had a significantly higher platelet count at baseline. Correlation between the HDR slope and heparin sensitivity was poor. Projected heparin concentration and anti-Xa heparin concentration are not interchangeable based on the Bland–Altman analysis.It can be hypothesized that the wide discrepancy in HDR slope versus heparin sensitivity may be explained by an inaccurate prediction of the plasma heparin level and/or the change in HDR of individual patients, depending on in vivo factors such as extravascular sequestration of heparin, decreased intrinsic antithrombin activity level and platelet count and/or activity.