The expression of the Na,K-ATPase was studied in both normal and failing human myocardium which was collected within 5 min of cardiac explantation in preparation for orthotopic transplantation or at the time of organ harvest. Abundance of mRNA for all three catalytic α subunits of the Na,K-ATPase was analyzed in samples from patients with end-stage heart failure due to either ischemic or dilated cardiomyopathy, as well as from normal controls. Vanadate facilitated 3H-oubain binding before and after a Digibind wash was analyzed on tissue from a subset of these patients. mRNA analysis demonstrated that all three catalytic Na,K-ATPase α subunits were expressed in human heart and that there was no evidence for change in relative expression or abundance induced by disease. The specific digitalis receptor concentration was 760 ± 58 and 614 ± 47 pmol/g wet weight in the samples from normal and failing hearts, respectively (p = NS). From these studies it can be concluded that, whereas there is a tendency for a decrease in the number of oubain receptors in heart failure, there is no significant alteration in the expression of Na,K-ATPase message or protein caused by chronic heart failure.