BACKGROUND: The purpose this study was to investigate the relationship of anti-myosin and anti-heat shock protein immunoglobulin G (IgG) serum antibodies to the original heart disease of cardiac transplant recipients, and also to rejection and patient survival after cardiac transplantation. METHODS: Anti-myosin and anti-heat shock protein (anti-hsp) IgG antibodies were evaluated in pre-transplant sera from 41 adult cardiac allograft recipients and in sequential post-transplant serum samples from 11 recipients, collected at the time of routine endomyocardial biopsies during the first 6 months after transplantation. In addition, the levels of these antibodies were determined from the sera of 28 healthy blood donors. RESULTS: Higher anti-myosin antibody levels were observed in pre-transplant sera than in sera from normal controls. Moreover, patients with chronic Chagas heart disease showed higher anti-myosin levels than patients with ischemic heart disease, and also higher levels, although not statistically significant, than patients with dilated cardiomyopathy. Higher anti-hsp levels were also observed in patients compared with healthy controls, but no significant differences were detected among the different types of heart diseases. Higher pre-transplant anti-myosin, but not anti-hsp, levels were associated with lower 2-year post-transplant survival. In the post-transplant period, higher anti-myosin IgG levels were detected in sera collected during acute rejection than in sera collected during the rejection-free period, whereas anti-hsp IgG levels showed no difference between these periods. CONCLUSIONS: The present findings are of interest for post-transplant management and, in addition, suggest a pathogenic role for anti-myosin antibodies in cardiac transplant rejection, as has been proposed in experimental models of cardiac transplantation.