In1,395 patients admitted to hospital between 1976 and 1981 due to suspected acute myocardial infarction, the 5-year mortality rate was related to whether they developed infarction or not during the first 3 days. In all, patients with definite myocardial infarction had a 5-year mortality rate of 33.4% as compared with 13.3% in patients not fulfilling the criteria for this diagnosis (p < 0.001). When separately analyzing patients with no previous myocardial infarction before admission and discharged from hospital, the corresponding mortality rate was 24.1 % for myocardial infarction patients versus 8.1 % in nonmyocardial infarction patients (p < 0.001). Among all patients with nonconfirmed myocardial infarction, those who partly fulfilled the criteria (possible myocardial infarction) had a 5-year mortality rate of 16.7% as compared with 12.0% in those in whom myocardial infarction was completely ruled out (p = 0.18). Independent risk factors for death among patients not developing early infarction were high age and a clinical history of previous myocardial infarction and smoking. We conclude that in this study the long-term prognosis among patients admitted to hospital due to suspected acute myocardial infarction was clearly related to whether they developed an infarction or not during the first 3 days in hospital.