BACKGROUND: Despite improved operator technique and advanced equipment designs, acute closure and restenosis remain as serious limitations to both the short and long-term success of balloon angioplasty. Atherectomy is a new transluminal interventional technique for the treatment of coronary artery obstructive disease. We evaluate preliminary experience of directonal coronary atherectomy (DCA) for complex coronary artery lesions. METHODS: We tried DCA in the 16 lesions of 15 nonrandomized sequential patients(mean age 66 years, M/F : 12/3) with coronary artery lesions that were ostial lesion in 4, ulcerated and/or eccentric in 13, restenosis after PTCA in 2 and after stent implantation in 2. The target vessel was right coronary artery in 7 and left anterior descending artery in 9. RESULTS: Primary success was achieved in 14 of 16 lesions (88%) by atherectomy and in 5(36%) by additional use of balloon angioplasty. Atherectomy retrieved tissue in 15 out of 15 attempts(100%). One patients suffered acute closure due to large dissection during the DCA which was solved successfully after stent implantation. CONCLUSIONS: Atherectomy can predictably treat selected patients with eccentric, ostial bulky coronary lesions with overall safety comparable to that of conventional balloon angioplasty, although the procedure as currently performed does not appear to prevent restenosis.