We describe the prognosis during 5 years of follow-up among consecutive patients hospitalized in a single hospital due to acute myocardial infarction in various age groups. When considering various aspects of clinical history, age was the strongest independent predictor of total 5-year mortality and of 5-year mortality after discharge from hospital. The overall 5-year mortality was: age < 65, 23%; age 65-75, 49%; age > 75, 79% (p < 0.001). The relationship between age and death appeared to be similar regardless of the development of Q waves, infarct size and infarct site. Among patients who died, younger patients more frequently died a sudden death associated with ventricular fibrillation, whereas the elderly more frequently died in association with congestive heart failure.