Anxiety and depression are thought to influence the genesis of ischemic diseases and not of valvular diseases, but little is known on the psychological profile of cardiac patients after surgery. Aim of this study was to investigate differences in disease experience and mood between patients undergoing cardiac rehabilitation after coronary artery by-pass graft (CABG) or after valve replacement (VR). We studied 1,179 CABG and 737 VR patients who completed the Illness Behaviour Questionnaire and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale after surgery. We tested the independent effect of the type of surgery by multivariate analysis and between-group differences in prevalence of clinically relevant scores. Relevant scores in the psychosomatic concern scale were more frequent in CABG than in VR patients. After correction by age, sex, education and marital status, scores of disease conviction and psychosomatic concern were higher in CABG patients, scores of denial were higher in VR patients. Unexpectedly, anxiety and depression scores did not differ between groups. Results suggest providing psychological support for anxiety and depression to both VR and CABG patients during cardiac rehabilitation, and planning differentiated interventions of cardiac rehabilitation and secondary prevention tailored to the specific psychological reactions of CABG and VR patients.