Conduction disturbances after coronary artery bypass grafting may result from compromised septal blood flow. To examine this hypothesis we reviewed the preoperative coronary angiography of 55 consecutive patients undergoing coronary artery bypass grafting. Thirty-five patients had either no lesion or a discrete lesion in the left anterior descending coronary artery that did not include the septal perforator (type I anatomy). Twenty patients had a lesion of the left anterior descending coronary artery at the origin of the first septal branch, a lesion of the first septal artery, or a pair of lesions in the left anterior descending coronary artery that straddled the origin of the first septal artery; all lesions were proximal to the graft site (type II anatomy). None of the patients with type I anatomy had a major conduction disturbance after coronary artery bypass grafting. Eleven of the patients with type II anatomy had major conduction disturbances after coronary artery bypass grafting; right bundle-branch block in 1, right bundle-branch block and left anterior hemiblock in 2, left bundle-branch block in 5, and complete atrioventricular block that required pacemaker implantation in 3 (p < 0.001). In the 20 patients with type II anatomy, the appearance of conduction disturbances correlated well with the absence of retrograde flow to the septal branches from the right coronary artery (p < 0.01). Pathological lesions in the left anterior descending coronary artery that compromise flow in the first perforator and that do not provide an adequate circulation produce localized damage and conduction disturbances after coronary artery bypass grafting. This can be predicted from the preoperative angiographic anatomy.