We examined the possible benefits of achieving and maintaining infarct-related artery potency beyond the time when preservation of left ventricular function would be expected. The open-artery hypothesis suggests that a patent infarct-related artery confers a survival benefit greater than that expected from myocardial salvage alone, which extends beyond the time when preservation of left ventricular function is expected. We examined the survival experience of patients undergoing thrombolysis in the Global Utilization of Streptokinase and TPA for Occluded Arteries (GUSTO-I) trial for whom data on the potency of the infarct artery were available. Univariable analysis was used to determine the unadjusted relations of angiographic variables and revascularization procedures to both 30-day and 1-year mortality in 30-day survivors. Multivariable analysis was used to test for interactions between patency and each characteristic and to adjust both for all other variables and for baseline characteristics known to predict mortality. In both univariable and multivariable analysis, patients with an open rather than a closed infarct-related artery had significantly lower 30-day mortality (p <0.001). This benefit cannot be accounted for by myocardial salvage alone, because it remained after adjustment for left ventricular ejection fraction. Patency was also associated with lower 1-year mortality in 30-day survivors, but not after adjustment for other variables affecting late mortality. Having an open infarct-related artery at the time of first catheterization confers a survival advantage that extends beyond the benefit of myocardial salvage from thrombolytic therapy, and is independent of ejection fraction.