Higher levels of serum phosphate are associated with adverse cardiovascular outcomes, especially in the setting of overt hyperphosphatemia. Given the biological importance of phosphorus, it is plausible that higher levels of serum phosphate within the normal range may also be associated with adverse outcomes. We performed a post hoc analysis of data from the Cholesterol And Recurrent Events (CARE) study. Baseline serum phosphate levels were measured in 4127 fasting participants who were randomized to receive pravastatin 40 mg daily or placebo and followed up for a median of 59.7 months. We used Cox proportional-hazards models to examine the association between serum phosphate and adverse clinical outcomes after adjustment for potential confounders. During nearly 60 months of follow-up, 375 participants died. A significant association was noted between baseline serum phosphate level and the age-, race-, and sex-adjusted risk of all-cause death (hazard ratio per 1 mg/dL, 1.27; 95% confidence interval, 1.02 to 1.58). After categorization based on baseline phosphate level (<2.5, 2.5 to 3.4, 3.5 to 3.9, and > or =4 mg/dL) and further adjustment, a graded independent relation between phosphate and death was observed (P for trend=0.03). For instance, participants with serum phosphate > or =3.5 mg/dL had an adjusted hazard ratio for death of 1.27 (95% confidence interval, 1.02 to 1.59) compared with those with serum phosphate of <3.5 mg/dL. Higher levels of serum phosphate were also associated with increased risk of new heart failure, myocardial infarction, and the composite of coronary death or nonfatal myocardial infarction, but not the risk of stroke. We found a graded independent relation between higher levels of serum phosphate and the risk of death and cardiovascular events in people with prior myocardial infarction, most of whom had serum phosphate levels within the normal range. Given the ready availability and low cost of serum phosphate assays, this finding may prove clinically useful.