Acute coronary syndromes (ACS) are due to the rupture or erosion of atheromatous plaques. This produces, depending on plaque size, vascular anatomy and degree of collateral circulation, progressive tissue ischaemia which may progress to cardiomyocyte necrosis and subsequent cardiac remodelling. Cardiac biomarkers can be used for diagnosis and assessment of all of these stages. Markers to detect myocardial ischaemia at the pre-infarction stage are potentially the most interesting but also the most challenging. An ischaemia marker offers the opportunity to intervene to prevent progression to infarction. The challenges with potential ischaemia markers are specificity and the diagnostic reference standard for assessment. To date, only one, ischaemia modified albumin, has reached the point where clinical studies can be performed. The measurement of the cardiac troponins, cardiac troponin T and cardiac troponin I, has become the diagnostic standard as the biomarker of myocardial necrosis. The sensitive nature of troponin measurement has also revealed that myocardial necrosis is also found in a range of other clinical situations. This illustrates the need to use all clinical information for diagnosis of acute myocardial infarction. The measurement of B type natriuretic peptides can be shown to be diagnostic and prognostic for both acute ACS and detecting the sequelae of post infarction myocardial insufficiency. The role of the B type natriuretic peptides in detection of cardiac failure, acute and chronic, is well defined. Their role in ACS remains the subject of further studies.