To determine whether the presence or absence of left ventricular (LV) intracavitary microbubbles during cardiac surgery predicts neurologic sequelae, 82 patients undergoing cardiac surgery were studied using transesophageal 2-dimensional (2-D) echocardiography. Cross-sectional images were recorded just before and immediately after cardiopulmonary bypass and stop frames were reviewed for the presence of microbubbles, rated as: 0 = absent, 1 = fewer than 5/frame, 2 = 10 to 25/frame, 3 = too numerous to count. Microbubbles were detected after cardiopulmonary bypass in 34 patients (41%) and found more often in valvular or other intracardiac manipulations than in coronary revascularization, 30 of 40 vs 4 of 42, respectively (p less than 0.001). When grade 2 or 3 microbubbles were identified (22 of 34 patients), mechanical attempts to eradicate them were not successful. Postoperative follow-up in all patients revealed no new focal neurologic deficits. Prolonged encephalopathy (confusional state more than 72 hours) occurred in 4 of 48 patients with no detectable microbubbles and in 3 of 34 patients with microbubbles (difference not significant). Thus, intracavitary left ventricular microbubbles are often detected during cardiac operations, particularly during valve replacement, but are not predictive of postoperative neurologic complications. This is true even if microbubbles are densely concentrated; attempts to eradicate microbubbles are unsuccessful and may be unnecessary.