The effects of intravenous infusions of glyceryl trinitrate and nifedipine on systemic haemodynamic function, coronary haemodynamic function, and global myocardial metabolism were compared in two groups of eleven patients with unimpaired left ventricular function undergoing elective coronary artery operation who were anaesthetised with high dose fentanyl. Severe post-sternotomy hypertension developed in three patients in the glyceryl trinitrate group who were resistant to the hypotensive effect of this agent. All patients given nifedipine remained haemodynamically stable. Coronary sinus blood flow and myocardial oxygen consumption increased and coronary vascular resistance decreased after sternotomy in the nifedipine group but not in the glyceryl trinitrate group. There is no satisfactory explanation for the apparently paradoxical increase in myocardial oxygen consumption in the patients given nifedipine. This phenomenon did not appear to be associated with any detrimental effect of left ventricular function. Thus nifedipine was better than glyceryl trinitrate for the control of post-sternotomy hypertension in patients with good left ventricular function. Intravenous nifedipine is not recommended, however, for the intraoperative control of blood pressure in patients with unstable angina or impaired left ventricular function.