INTRODUCTION Many strategies to improve services provided by for physiotherapy are based on patients satisfaction. Listen and observe the behavior of patients in a hospital is crucial to understanding and improvement of service and the hospital. OBJECTIVE This study aimed to identify the patient's perception undergoing cardiac surgery on the physiotherapy service provided to wards of hospitals for heart surgery reference in the city of Maceió, AL, Brazil, and from that information detect what actions are perceived as priorities for which are noteworthy plans for improvements in quality of care. METHODS Cross-sectional study, conducted in quality and quantity of reference hospitals in cardiac surgery in the city of Maceio, AL, Brazil, in the period from September to November 2008. The study included 30 users of the Sistema Único de Saúde, of which 12 (40%) female and 18 (60%) males. The average age of this sample was 49.2 ± 11.9 years and most belonged to socioeconomic class D (36.7%). RESULTS It was found that only 16.7% had contact with the physiotherapist before surgery. Regarding educational guidelines about postoperative period, only 2.9% patients reported having received them. However, 56.8% rated the care as good and 100% of patients reported believing that physiotherapy could improve their health status. CONCLUSION We suggest the implementation of preoperative physical therapy protocols with preventive measures and educational as well as new researchs that may characterize the population of users of health plans/private.