OBJECTIVE--To investigate the effect of intracardiac repair on the abnormal biosynthesis of prostacyclin (PGI2) and thromboxane A2 (TXA2) in children with congenital heart disease and increased pulmonary blood flow. DESIGN--A prospective study with immunoaffinity chromatography and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry to measure the urinary excretion products of PGI2 (2,3-dinor-6-oxo-prostaglandin (PG) F1 alpha (2,3-dinor-6-oxo-PGF1 alpha)) and TXA2 (2,3-dinor-TXB2) before operation, in the first 12-24 h after operation, and at discharge from hospital. SETTING--A supraregional referral centre for patients with congenital heart disease. PATIENTS--15 patients aged 2 to 60 months (median 7 months) with a left to right shunt who underwent intracardiac repair. RESULTS--The preoperative 2,3-dinor-TXB2 excretion rate was greater than that found previously in a control group of 16 healthy children with a median (range) age of 24 (6-36) months (1159(201) v 592(122) ng/g creatinine in controls, P = 0.006). The excretion rate rose after operation to 9600(3832) ng/g creatinine (P = 0.01) and decreased before discharge to 1071(191) ng/g creatinine (NS), but remained greater than that of the control group (P = 0.014). Before operation 2,3-dinor-6-oxo-PGF1 alpha excretion rates were similar to those of the healthy children (482(68) v 589(95) ng/g creatinine in controls) but increased after operation to 19,668(11,162) ng/creatinine (P = 0.002) and fell at discharge to 1621(245) ng/g creatinine although this was higher than both preoperative and control rates (P = 0.005 and P = 0.0002 respectively). The preoperative ratio of 2,3-dinor-TXB2 to 2,3-dinor-6-oxo-PGF1 alpha excretion was greater than that of the control group (3.2(0.8) v 1.3(0.22) in controls, (P = 0.005)), decreased significantly after operation to 0.9(0.13) (P = 0.016), and changed little, to 0.7(0.12), before discharge. The last two ratios were similar to those in normal children and significantly lower than those before operation (P = 0.004). CONCLUSION--In children with a left to right shunt the ratio of the excretion rates of the metabolites of TXA2 and PGI2 was abnormal before operation, which favoured vasoconstriction and platelet aggregation, but had decreased at discharge from hospital. The increase in excretion of PGI2 metabolites over TXA2 metabolite after intracardiac repair augurs well for pulmonary vascular recovery.