The Lyon Diet Heart Study is a randomized secondary prevention trial aimed at testing whether a Mediterranean-type diet may reduce the rate of recurrence after a first myocardial infarction. An intermediate analysis showed a striking protective effect after 27 months of follow-up. This report presents results of an extended follow-up (with a mean of 46 months per patient) and deals with the relationships of dietary patterns and traditional risk factors with recurrence. Three composite outcomes (COs) combining either cardiac death and nonfatal myocardial infarction (CO 1), or the preceding plus major secondary end points (unstable angina, stroke, heart failure, pulmonary or peripheral embolism) (CO 2), or the preceding plus minor events requiring hospital admission (CO 3) were studied. In the Mediterranean diet group, CO 1 was reduced (14 events versus 44 in the prudent Western-type diet group, P=0.0001), as were CO 2 (27 events versus 90, P=0.0001) and CO 3 (95 events versus 180, P=0. 0002). Adjusted risk ratios ranged from 0.28 to 0.53. Among the traditional risk factors, total cholesterol (1 mmol/L being associated with an increased risk of 18% to 28%), systolic blood pressure (1 mm Hg being associated with an increased risk of 1% to 2%), leukocyte count (adjusted risk ratios ranging from 1.64 to 2.86 with count >9x10(9)/L), female sex (adjusted risk ratios, 0.27 to 0. 46), and aspirin use (adjusted risk ratios, 0.59 to 0.82) were each significantly and independently associated with recurrence. The protective effect of the Mediterranean dietary pattern was maintained up to 4 years after the first infarction, confirming previous intermediate analyses. Major traditional risk factors, such as high blood cholesterol and blood pressure, were shown to be independent and joint predictors of recurrence, indicating that the Mediterranean dietary pattern did not alter, at least qualitatively, the usual relationships between major risk factors and recurrence. Thus, a comprehensive strategy to decrease cardiovascular morbidity and mortality should include primarily a cardioprotective diet. It should be associated with other (pharmacological?) means aimed at reducing modifiable risk factors. Further trials combining the 2 approaches are warranted.