Twenty-five patients between 80 and 89 years of age underwent a variety of cardiac surgical procedures. Operative mortality was 4%. Perioperative complications were frequent and resulted in an increased hospital stay postoperatively (mean 19.5 days). At a mean follow-up of 29.1 months, 21 patients (84%) are alive, with improvement in functional class from 3.4 to 2.0 (p < 0.005). Cardiac operations can be performed in patients over 80 years of age with low mortality and significant symptomatic benefit. A high incidence of complications necessitates careful monitoring but should not represent a contraindication to the surgical management of advanced heart disease in this group.