Aim. To explore the treatment experiences in patients of Moroccan and Turkish origin and their rehabilitation therapists regarding an adapted outpatient cardiac rehabilitation programme. Background. Non-native patients who participated in a cardiac rehabilitation programme at a Dutch rehabilitation centre had more difficulties to achieve the treatment aims than native Dutch patients. Therefore, an adapted programme for non-native patients, lacking proficiency in Dutch, has been instigated. The programme contains six adapted treatment modules and additional strategies: adapted education regarding (1) the heart and the vascular system and (2) the use of healthy food, with use the of (audio) visual educational materials, (3) adapted physical exercise module with explicit involvement of the patients' relatives, (4) standard use of professional interpreters, (5) increase in the number and length of consultations and (6) individual treatment instead of a group programme. Design. Qualitative study. Method. Semi-structured, face-to-face interviews were conducted with eight patients of Moroccan and Turkish origin and five native Dutch rehabilitation therapists. By comparison, three native Dutch patients were interviewed regarding the regular programme. Results. The results indicate that the patients' disease symptoms reduced and that patients adopted lifestyle changes. Therapists experienced that the number and length of the consultations, the structural use of interpreters and (audio) visual educational materials contributed to the achievement of the treatment aims. Conclusion. An adapted cardiac rehabilitation programme with separate modules and additional strategies for non-native patients appears to lead to satisfied patients who adopted lifestyle changes. Relevance to clinical practice. The findings of this study are important as the study highlights the practical actions that may be taken by physicians and healthworkers to adjust rehabilitation treatment to the needs of patients of non-native origin. © 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.