Clinical outcomes of patients with unstable angina are variable. We sought to identify predictors of adverse clinical outcomes in patients with unstable angina and to investigate whether these factors would predict the magnitude of benefit achieved with platelet glycoprotein IIb/IIIa inhibition. We analyzed 20 variables in the 1,915 patients enrolled in the Platelet Receptor Inhibition for Ischemic Syndrome Management in Patients Limited by Unstable Signs and Symptoms trial. Five independent predictors were identified: age >65 years, prior coronary artery bypass grafting, antecedent aspirin use, antecedent beta-blocker use, and ST depressions on the presenting electrocardiogram. A risk score system was created using these predictors in which patients were assigned 1 point for the presence of each risk factor. There was a progressive increase in the rate of the composite end point of death, myocardial infarction, or refractory ischemia at 7 days with an increasing number of risk factors. For patients treated with heparin alone, the composite end point event rate was 6.5% in the group with 0 or 1 predictor, 14.6% in the group with 2 predictors, 22.7% in the group with 3 predictors, and 37.1% in the group with 4 or 5 predictors (p <0.00001). When dividing patients into low- (0 or 1 point), medium- (2 or 3 points), and high-risk (4 or 5 points) groups, the addition of tirofiban to heparin therapy was associated with no significant benefit in the low-risk group, a 5.2% absolute reduction in the medium-risk group (p = 0.05), and a 16% absolute reduction in the high-risk group (p = 0.0055). Thus, we have developed a risk score system using 5 variables that can be used to identify patients at high risk for death and cardiac ischemic events and who experience the greatest benefit from the addition of a glycoprotein IIb/IIIa inhibitor to their treatment regimen.