The relationship between preinfarction clinical status and short-term outcome was prospectively evaluated in 775 patients hospitalized with acute myocardial infarction after reperfusion therapy. It was anticipated that a history of angina preceding myocardial infarction by more than 7 days would be associated with more extensive underlying coronary artery disease and a more complicated in-hospital course. However, although this group did have a higher risk profile for coronary artery disease (hypertension 53.6% vs 37.2%; diabetes 22.5% vs 12.1%; hyperlipidemia 19.4% vs 9.8%; mean number of risk factors 2.2 vs 1.7, p = 0.0001), a higher incidence of multivessel disease (57.7% vs 39.6%, p less than 0.0001), worse baseline global left ventricular function (left ventricular ejection fraction 48.8% vs 51.3%, p = 0.03), and impaired function of the noninfarct zone (-0.05 vs +0.46 SD/chord, p = 0.002), the in-hospital course was less complicated than in the group without prior angina. Patients without antecedent angina had a higher rate of reocclusion of the infarct-related artery (13.6% vs 8.2%; p = 0.048). Although the difference did not reach statistical significance (7.2% vs 4.6%; p = 0.21), the in-hospital mortality rate was also higher in this group. These findings suggest that a history of prior angina is not necessarily associated with an unfavorable short-term prognosis after reperfusion therapy. This may be related to the greater prior use by this group of beta-adrenergic- and calcium channel-blocking agents (23.1% vs 8.5% and 20.7% vs 3.8%, respectively). It may also be related to the beneficial effects of collateral vessels, myocardial preconditioning, or differences in the native fibrinolytic system.