Evidence is growing that magnesium supplementation in patients undergoing cardiac surgery is beneficial, however the best administration route has not been established. Previously, we showed that intra-operative direct flush infusion of magnesium into the aortic root before reperfusion was effective. The present study compared pre-operative oral administration of magnesium for 10 days with intra-operative flush infusion of magnesium for spontaneous resumption of cardiac rhythm and ventricular fibrillation in patients undergoing cardiac surgery with cardiopulmonary bypass (CBP). The rate of spontaneous resumption of cardiac rhythm, the number of shocks required for defibrillation, the energy required for defibrillation and the occurrence of post-CPB ventricular tachyarrhythmias were not significantly different between the groups. Serum magnesium levels were minimally increased following administration of magnesium but were within the normal range at all times in both groups. Oral administration of magnesium might provide myoprotective effects during cardiac surgery, but larger trials with a greater statistical power need to be carried out in order to show this.