The following prospective study was undertaken to observe the clinical course, early prognosis and coronary anatomy of patients with subendocardial infarction. Subendocardial infarction was defined as typical chest apin (greater than 15 minutes), serum enzyme elevation and persistent (greater than 48 hours) new T wave inversion and/or S-T segment depression in the absence of new pathologic Q waves. Fifty consecutive patients were defined, followed in a prospective manner and subjected to early coronary arteriography. A prior history of unstable angina was found in 33 patients (66 per cent); 22 patients (44 per cent) had significant dysrhythmias during the acute hospital phase, and seven patients (14 per cent) had evidence of mild left ventricular failure. Coronary arteriography demonstrated significant lesions (greater than 75 per cent narrowing in at least one vessel) in all 50 patients, with 30 patients (60 per cent) having either double- or triple-vessel disease. Follow-up (mean 10.6 months) revealed that 15 patients (30 per cent) had stable angina, 23 patients (46 per cent) unstable angina and only 12 patients (24 per cent) remained free of angina. Of 28 patients in a medically treated group, acute transmural infarctions developed in six (21 per cent) and one died (3 per cent). We conclude that subendocardial infarction is symptomatically an unstable entity, is associated with severe coronary artery disease and, in a medically treated group, is followed by a significant incidence of early transmural myocardial infarction (21 per cent). Therefore, these patients require in-hospital monitoring, careful follow-up and consideration for early coronary arteriography.