The results of on-pump coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery in 166 high-risk elderly patients (EuroSCORE 6 or more; over age 65 years [mean 71.8 years]) were compared with 176 low-risk elderly patients (EuroSCORE below 6; over age 65 years [mean 68.8 years]). There was no significant difference in hospital mortality or number of grafts between the two groups. Rates of motropic agent use, intra-aortic balloon pump insertion and atrial fibrillation, and the duration of intensive care unit and hospital stay were significantly higher in high-risk than low-risk patients. There were no significant differences in the incidence of major complications between the two groups. The results suggest that, in selected patients, on-pump CABG can be safely performed in high-risk patients over 65 years old with no effect on mortality.