Background. Despite the use of intraaortic balloon pump (IABP) support in complex cardiac surgical patients, morbidity and mortality rates are high. More advanced mechanical cardiovascular support should be considered in those patients who are highly likely to die despite IABP support. We sought to identify early, readily available prognostic markers for patients receiving IABP support. Methods. A retrospective analysis was performed on 39 patients requiring IABP support following cardiac surgery for more than 2 years. The accuracy and predictive ability of multiple potential markers of mortality were statistically assessed. Results. Sixty-seven percent of the patients were successfully weaned from IABP support and 46% survived to hospital discharge. Serious complications occurred in 13% of patients. Serum lactate more than 10 mmol/L in the first 8 hours of IABP support predicted a 100% mortality. Base deficit more than 10 mmol/L, mean arterial pressure less than 60 mm Hg, urine output less than 30 mls/h for 2 hours, and dose of epinephrine or norepinephrine more than 10μg/min were other highly predictive prognostic markers. Conclusions. Morbidity and mortality rates remain high despite IABP support following cardiac surgery. Mortality can be predicted by the presence of elevated serum lactate, elevated base deficit, hypotension, oliguria and large vasopressor doses, any of which should prompt appropriate consideration as to other mechanical cardiovascular support.