Objective: To determine the incidence and predictors of delirium after cardiac surgery. Method: A prospective, observational study of postcardiotomy surgical patients was conducted during a 5 month period at the Minneapolis, MN, VAMC. Results: Of the 53 patients who completed the study, 12 patients (23%) met criteria for postoperative delirium and 18 patients (34%) met criteria for postoperative subsyndromal delirium. Significant predictors of postoperative delirium included a history of cerebrovascular disease (Charlson Index item, VA CICSP), high medical comorbidity (VA morbidity risk score, Charlson Index), increased preoperative cre-atinine level, and an increased preoperative pain rating. When delirium and subsyndromal delirium patients were combined, a history of cerebrovascular disease, left ventricular dysfunction, or diabetes predicted the development of delirious symptoms. Conclusions: Incident delirium occurred in 23% of patients after cardiac surgery and incident delirium symptoms, in 57%. The strongest predictor of both incident delirium and delirium symptoms was a history of cerebrovascular disease.