To assess the risk and possible benefits of use of the percutaneous IABP in patients given thrombolytic therapy as treatment for acute myocardial infarction, we prospectively evaluated 810 consecutive patients entered into the TAMI trials. During hospitalization the 85 patients treated with the IABP had more cardiac risk factors, were slightly older (58 vs 56 years), and more often had anterior infarction (62% vs 38%). At acute cardiac catheterization, patients treated with the IABP also had more multivessel coronary disease (67% vs 43%), more frequent TIMI grade 0 or 1 flow (44% vs 28%), lower global ejection fraction (40% vs 52%), and worse regional infarct (-3.2 vs -2.5 SD/chord) and noninfarct (-0.67 vs +0.36 SD/chord) zone function. Although mortality rates (32% vs 4%) and in-hospital complications were greater in patients treated with the IABP, a greater improvement in global (delta ejection fraction: +1.9% vs +0.7%) and noninfarct zone (delta SD/chord: +0.11 vs -0.09) left ventricular function was observed in patients treated with the IABP at 1-week follow-up angiography. In addition, no reinfarction or reocclusion of the infarct-related artery occurred while patients were being treated with the IABP. These results suggest that the IABP may have a specific role after thrombolytic therapy in treating patients at high risk for reocclusion or at high risk for hemodynamic deterioration because of large infarction or critical stenoses in coronary vessels supplying the noninfarct zone.