OBJECTIVES: The spread of drug-eluting stents (DES) has reduced the incidence of early restenosis following percutaneous coronary interventions (PCI). Meanwhile, development of minimally invasive coronary artery bypass surgery (MIDCAB) has offered a valuable alternative to conventional sternotomy with preservation of the benefit of the internal mammary artery use. Therefore, the revascularizationof the left anterior descending (LAD) artery is suitable for both techniques. However, few data with long-term comparison of these two techniques exist. METHODS: Prospective data were collected for 456 patients undergoing isolated LAD revascularization between 1997 and 2011. Two hundred and sixty patients were treated with MIDCAB and 196 with first-generation DES implantation. A propensity score model was created to adjust for 19 relevant confounding variables. Primary and secondary end-points were, respectively, 5-year survival and freedom from major adverse cerebro-cardiovascular events (MACCE). RESULTS: Both groups were similar in age, EuroSCORE and mean duration of follow-up. Five-year survival was similar after MIDCAB or DES (hazard ratio (HR): 0.95; P = 0.89). Freedom from MACCE was significantly in favour of the MIDCAB group (HR: 0.32, P < 0.0001), mainly triggered by high subsequent need for revascularization of the targeted vessel in the DES group (HR: 0.17, P < 0.0001). CONCLUSIONS: MIDCAB and DES implantation showed similar rates of survival but despite an expected lower rate of reintervention on the targeted vessel with DES use, a highly significant higher MACCE rate was observed in the PCI group at 5-year follow-up.