Epidemiological studies have indicated that chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) may be associated with an increased incidence of ischaemic cardiac events. The current authors performed a post hoc analysis of the European Respiratory Society's study on Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (EUROSCOP); a 3-yr, placebo-controlled study of an inhaled corticosteroid budesonide 800 microg.day(-1) in smokers (mean age 52 yrs) with mild COPD. The current study evaluates whether long-term budesonide treatment attenuates the incidence of ischaemic cardiac events, including angina pectoris, myocardial infarction, coronary artery disorder and myocardial ischaemia. Among the 1,175 patients evaluated for safety, 49 (4.2%) patients experienced 60 ischaemic cardiac events. Patients treated with budesonide had a significantly lower incidence of ischaemic cardiac events (18 out of 593; 3.0%) than those receiving placebo (31 out of 582; 5.3%). The results of the present study support the hypothesis that treatment with inhaled budesonide reduces ischaemic cardiac events in patients with mild chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.