This study was performed to investigate if heparin-coated extracorporeal circuits can reduce the systemic inflammatory reaction with the subsequent release of vasoactive substances during and after cardiopulmonary bypass. Fifty-one patients scheduled for coronary artery bypass grafting were perfused with either a heparin-coated or an uncoated circuit. During bypass the mean arterial pressure was maintained as near as possible to 60 mm Hg. Mediators for inflammation, hemodynamic, and oxygen parameters were determined during and after bypass. To reach the target mean arterial pressure in the first hour of bypass the pump flow in the uncoated group had to be increased (P < 0.05), consequently the systemic vascular resistance index decreased (P < 0.05). After bypass more inotropic support was necessary in this group to reach this pressure. In the coated group less bradykinin, complement activation, and elastase was generated during bypass (P < 0.05). The results of this study suggest that heparin coating not only improves biocompatibility, but also ameliorates the hemodynamic instability during and after bypass. © 2005 International Center for Artificial Organs and Transplantation.