Despite scientific evidence that secondary prevention medical therapies reduce mortality in patients with established coronary artery disease, these therapies continue to be underutilized in patients receiving conventional care. To address this issue, a Cardiac Hospital Atherosclerosis Management Program (CHAMP) focused on initiation of aspirin, cholesterol-lowering medication (hydroxymethylglutaryl coenzyme A [HMG CoA] reductase inhibitor titrated to achieve low-density lipoprotein [LDL] cholesterol < or =100 mg/dl), beta blocker, and angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor therapy in conjunction with diet and exercise counseling before hospital discharge in patients with established coronary artery disease. Treatment rates and clinical outcome were compared in patients discharged after myocardial infarction in the 2-year period before (1992 to 1993) and the 2-year period after (1994 to 1995) CHAMP was implemented. In the pre- and post-CHAMP patient groups, aspirin use at discharge improved from 68% to 92% (p <0.01), beta blocker use improved from 12% to 62% (p <0.01), ACE inhibitor use increased from 6% to 58% (p <0.01), and statin use increased from 6% to 86% (p <0.01). This increased use of treatment persisted during subsequent follow-up. There was also a significant increase in patients achieving a LDL cholesterol < or =100 mg/dl (6% vs 58%, p <0.001) and a reduction in recurrent myocardial infarction and 1-year mortality. Compared with conventional guidelines and care, CHAMP was associated with a significant increase in use of medications that have been previously demonstrated to reduce mortality; more patients achieved an LDL cholesterol < or =100 mg/dl, and there were improved clinical outcomes in patients after hospitalization for acute myocardial infarction.