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The clinical benefit of off-pump coronary artery bypass graft surgery over on-pump surgery is a matter of controversy. The aim of this study was to assess quality of life in patients after on-pump and off-pump coronary artery bypass graft surgery, and compare the data with an age-matched and sex-matched standard population.Two hundred twelve patients admitted for elective coronary artery bypass graft surgery were randomized to on-pump (n = 104) and off-pump (n = 108) surgery. Quality-of-life assessments were made 6 and 18 months postoperatively using the standard form of the Medical Outcomes Study 36-Item Short Form Health Survey (SF-36, version 2). The questionnaire yields eight subscores of functional health and well being. The eight SF-36 raw scores were standardized using means and standard deviations from a random sample of adults in Great Britain. Mean on-pump and off-pump SF-36 scores were compared using two-sample Student'sttests.Questionnaires were completed for 72% (154 of 212) and 46% (98 of 212) of patients at the 6- and 18-month follow-up, respectively. There were no significant differences between on-pump and off-pump patients in any of the eight subscales at both stages. Fifty-six (72%) on-pump and 59 (75%) off-pump patients reported a better health status compared with the 6-month period before surgery (not significant).Patients who have undergone off-pump coronary artery bypass graft surgery have a similar quality of life to on-pump patients at 6 and 18 months after surgery. For both groups, the majority of patients reported improved health after coronary artery bypass graft surgery compared with their preoperative status.