Background - A causal relation between atherosclerosis and chronic infection with Chlamydia pneumoniae and/or cytomegalovirus (CMV) has been suggested. Whether the unresolved problem of venous coronary artery bypass graft occlusion is related to infection with C pneumoniae and/or CMV has not been addressed. Methods and Results - Thirty-eight occluded coronary artery vein grafts and 20 native saphenous veins were examined. Detection of C pneumoniae DNA was performed by use of nested polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Homogenisates from the specimen were cultured for identification of viable C pneumoniae. Both conventional PCR and quantitative PCR for detection of CMV DNA were applied. Differential pathological changes (degree of inflammation, smooth muscle cell proliferation [MIB-1]) were determined and correlated to the detection of both microorgamsms. C pneumoniae DNA could be detected in 25% of occluded vein grafts. Viable C pneumoniae was recovered from 16% of occluded vein grafts. Except for 1 native saphenous vein, all control vessels were negative for both C pneumoniae detection and culture. All pathological and control specimens were negative for CMV DNA detection. Pathological changes did not correlate with C pneumoniae detection. Conclusions - Occluded aorto-coronary venous grafts harbor C pneumoniae but not CMV. The detection of C pneumoniae in occluded vein grafts warrants further investigation.