Early postinfarction angina implies an unfavorable prognosis. Most published information on this outcome represents data collected in the prethrombolytic era, in which definitions and populations differed considerably. Our purpose was to evaluate the incidence and importance of recurrent ischemia after administration of thrombolytic therapy. We studied patients enrolled in the Thrombolysis and Angioplasty in Myocardial Infarction studies. Patients were enrolled into 5 studies with similar entry criteria; 552 patients were treated with tissue plasminogen activator (t-PA), 293 were treated with urokinase, and 385 received both thrombolytic agents. Recurrent ischemia was defined as symptoms in association with electrocardiographic changes; reinfarction was defined as a reelevation of creatine kinase myocardial band isoenzyme in an appropriate clinical setting. Both recurrent ischemia and reinfarction occurred in 42 patients (3.4%), recurrent ischemia alone occurred in 226 (18%), whereas neither occurred in 964 (78%). Although baseline characteristics were similar among the 3 groups, in-hospital cardiac events (total 73 deaths, 253 heart failure episodes) were not: in-hospital mortality in patients with reinfarction was 21%; with recurrent ischemia, 11%; and with neither event, 4% (p < 0.0001). The in-hospital heart failure rate of patients with reinfarction was 50%; with recurrent ischemia alone, 31%; and with neither event, 17% (p < 0.0001). As expected, median in-hospital costs were highest in patients with reinfarction ($26,802), intermediate for those with recurrent ischemia alone ($18,422), and lowest in patients with neither event ($15,623). Recurrent myocardial ischemia after thrombolytic therapy is a frequent, important, and expensive adverse clinical outcome, making it a critical target for therapeutic intervention.