In order to devise a strategy for the management of acute pharyngitis, the clinical features of 418 adults with sore throat were noted and throat cultures were obtained. Patients with cultures positive for group A beta-hemolytic streptococci had a significantly higher (P less than or equal to .01) frequency of recent exposure to streptococcal infection, pharyngeal exudate, enlarged or tender cervical nodes, and high fever (greater than or equal to 38.3 C [101 F]. Patients with negative cultures complained more frequently of cough. On the basis of these symptoms and signs, a clinical algorithm was developed and discriminant function scores were computed that identify patient populations with different probabilities of having streptococcal pharyngitis. The patients with moderate and high probabilities included 91% of patients with positive cultures but only 67% of the total patient population. These methods could be the basis for more efficient evaluation of adults with sore throat.