Background: The psychological evaluation of patients undergoing cardiac transplantation is currently based on DSM-IV criteria. An alternative diagnostic and conceptual framework has been proposed by an international group of psychosomatic investigators. The aim of this study was to compare these new criteria (Diagnostic Criteria for Psychosomatic Research, DCPR) with DSM-IV in a population where a high prevalence of psychological problems is expected (heart-transplanted patients). Method: 129 consecutive patients who underwent heart transplant surgery were assessed according to DSM-IV and DCPR criteria. Results: The results showed a higher number of diagnoses made using the DCPR than with the use of the DSM-IV. At least one DCPR diagnosis was found in 85 (66%) patients, whereas at least one DSM diagnosis was present in 23 (18%) patients. The number of DCPR diagnoses was almost the triple of DSM criteria. While patients who were given a DSM diagnosis frequently had additional DCPR diagnoses, many patients with DCPR criteria did not fulfill any DSM criteria. Four DCPR syndromes appeared to be particularly frequent: demoralization, type A behavior, irritable mood and alexithymia. Conclusions: The joint use of DSM and DCPR criteria was found to improve the identification of psychological factors which could result in a worsening of quality of life in heart-transplanted patients.