OBJECTIVES The purpose of this study was to determine the feasibility, safety and efficacy of elective and urgent deployment of the new intravascular rigid-flex (NIR) stent in patients with coronary artery disease. BACKGROUND Stent implantation has been shown to be effective in the treatment of focal, new coronary stenoses and in restoring coronary flow after coronary dissection and abrupt vessel closure. However, currently available stents either lack flexibility, hindering navigation through tortuous arteries, or lack axial strength, resulting in suboptimal scaffolding of the vessel. The unique transforming multicellular design of the NIR stent appears to provide both longitudinal flexibility and radial strength. METHODS NIR stent implantation was attempted in 255 patients (341 lesions) enrolled prospectively in a multicenter international registry from December 1995 through March 1996. Nine-, 16- and 32-mm long NIR stents were manually crimped onto coronary balloons and deployed in native coronary (94%) and saphenous vein graft (6%) lesions. Seventy-four percent of patients underwent elective stenting for primary or restenotic lesions, 21% for a suboptimal angioplasty result and 5% for threatened or abrupt vessel closure. Fifty-two percent of patients presented with unstable angina, 48% had a previous myocardial infarction, and 45% had multivessel disease. Coronary lesions were frequently complex, occurring in relatively small arteries (mean [+/-SD] reference diameter 2.8 +/- 0.6 mm). Patients were followed up for 6 months for the occurrence of major adverse cardiovascular events. RESULTS Stent deployment was accomplished in 98% of lesions. Mean minimal lumen diameter increased by 1.51 +/- 0.51 mm (from 1.09 +/- 0.43 mm before to 2.60 +/- 0.50 mm after the procedure). Mean percent diameter stenosis decreased from 61 +/- 13% before to 17 +/- 7% after intervention. A successful interventional procedure with < 50% diameter stenosis of all treatment site lesions and no major adverse cardiac events within 30 days occurred in 95% of patients. Event-free survival at 6 months was 82%. Ninety-four percent of surviving patients were either asymptomatic or had mild stable angina at 6 month follow-up. CONCLUSIONS Despite unfavorable clinical and angiographic characteristics of the majority of patients enrolled, the acute angiographic results and early clinical outcome after NIR stent deployment were very promising. A prospective, randomized trial comparing the NIR stent with other currently available stents appears warranted.