It is not clear how levels of serum lipids and glucose and plasma osmolality change during propofol infusion in the pre- and postoperative period of coronary artery bypass graft surgery (CABG). This prospective, randomized, controlled trial evaluated changes in these parameters during propofol or midazolam infusion during and in the early postoperative period following surgery. Twenty patients undergoing CABG were randomized preoperatively into two groups: 10 patients received propofol (induction 1.5 mg/kg, maintenance 1.5 mg kg(-1) h(-1)) and 10 patients received midazolam (induction 0.5 mg/kg, maintenance 0.1 mg kg(-1) h(-1)). Both groups also received fentanyl (induction 20 mu g/kg, maintenance 10 mu g kg(-1)). Serum lipids, glucose, and plasma osmolality were measured preinduction, precardiopulmonary bypass, at the end of cardiopulmonary bypass, at the end of surgery, and 4 and 24 h postoperatively. In the propofol group, we observed a significant increase in triglycerides and very low-density lipoprotein levels 4 h postoperatively. In the midazolam group, we observed a significant decrease in low-density lipoprotein, cholesterol at the end of cardiopulmonary bypass, end of surgery, and 4 and 24 h postoperatively and significant increase in osmolality at the end of cardiovascular bypass. Changes in glucose levels did not differ significantly different between the two groups. In patients with normal serum lipids, glucose, and plasma osmolality undergoing CABG, propofol infusion for maintenance anesthesia is not associated with dangerous changes in serum lipids, glucose, and plasma osmolality compared with midazolam. A propofol infusion technique for maintenance of anesthesia for cardiac surgery where serum lipids and glucose may be of concern could be recommended as an alternative to midazolam.