A sample of 945 cardiac patients admitted under emergency conditions completed a quality of life questionnaire 4 months post-discharge. Half (471) were randomly allocated to a group used to develop a logistic regression model to predict mortality and cardiovascular morbidity 8 months later. Age 65-85 years, ever having heart failure, experiencing another cardiovascular event since discharge, and low global quality of life (QOL) score were found to be predictive of these outcomes; an interaction between QOL and heart failure was also found. The model was used to formulate a risk index which was validated in the remaining 474 patients. The index defines four levels of increasing risk of adverse outcomes, with rates in the development and validation groups, respectively, of: low risk 4% and 9%; moderate risk 13% and 15%; high risk 31% and 33%; very high risk 52% and 40%. Scores in the emotional, physical and social QOL domains were also found to be predictive of adverse outcomes, suggesting that interventions in any of these areas may prove beneficial. The index may be useful for follow-up evaluation of cardiac patients.