This study aimed to investigate the incidence, predictors, and clinical outcomes of cardiac tamponade after heart valve surgery. A total of 556 patients who underwent heart valve surgery in a single tertiary center between January 2010 and March 2012 were studied. All patients underwent transthoracic echocardiography (TTE) about 5 days after surgery and TTE was repeated regularly. Patients with suspected acute pericardial hemorrhage were excluded. Cardiac tamponade occurred in twenty-four (4.3%) patients and all underwent surgical or percutaneous pericardial drainage. The median time of pericardial drainage after surgery was 17 (interquartile range, IQR, 13-30) days. Infective endocarditis, mechanical valve replacement of aortic or mitral valve, and any amount of pericardial effusion (PE) on the first postoperative TTE were related to the occurrence of cardiac tamponade (all p<0.05). After multivariate adjustment, occurrence of cardiac tamponade was associated with any amount of PE on the first postoperative TTE (hazard ratio, HR, 14.00, p<0.001) and mechanical valve replacement (HR 2.69, p = 0.025). The mean hospital days in patients with cardiac tamponade was higher than those without (34.9 vs. 13.5, p = 0.031). After pericardial drainage, there was no echocardiographic recurrence of significant PE during a median of 34.8 (IQR 14.9-43.7) months after surgery. Cardiac tamponade after heart valve surgery is not uncommon. Patients with any amount of PE at the first postoperative TTE or mechanical valve replacement should receive higher attention with regard to the occurrence of cardiac tamponade. Although it prolongs hospital stay, cardiac tamponade exhibits a benign clinical course without recurrence after timely intervention.