An increase in daily mortality from myocardial infarction has been observed in association with meteorological factors and air pollution in several cities in the world, mainly in the northern hemisphere. The objective of the present study was to analyze the independent effects of environmental variables on daily counts of death from myocardial infarction in a subtropical region in South America. We used the robust Poisson regression to investigate associations between weather (temperature, humidity and barometric pressure), air pollution (sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, and inhalable particulate), and the daily death counts attributed to myocardial infarction in the city of São Paulo in Brazil, where 12,007 fatal events were observed from 1996 to 1998. The model was adjusted in a linear fashion for relative humidity and day-of-week, while nonparametric smoothing factors were used for seasonal trend and temperature. We found a significant association of daily temperature with deaths due to myocardial infarction (P < 0.001), with the lowest mortality being observed at temperatures between 21.6 and 22.6 degrees C. Relative humidity appeared to exert a protective effect. Sulfur dioxide concentrations correlated linearly with myocardial infarction deaths, increasing the number of fatal events by 3.4% (relative risk of 1.03; 95% confidence interval = 1.02-1.05) for each 10 microg/m(3) increase. In conclusion, this study provides evidence of important associations between daily temperature and air pollution and mortality from myocardial infarction in a subtropical region, even after a comprehensive control for confounding factors.