The effect of diltiazem on long-term outcome in patients with acute myocardial infarction with and without a history of systemic hypertension was investigated in 2,466 patients using the Multicenter Diltiazem Postinfarction Trial data-base. The baseline variables were comparable in the diltiazem and placebo-treated patients within the groups with and without hypertension. The initial 60-mg dose of diltiazem was associated with a significant (p less than 0.001) but modest (3%) reduction in blood pressure and heart rate in both groups with and without hypertension. Univariate and multivariate analyses revealed a meaningful overall reduction in first recurrent cardiac events (cardiac death or nonfatal reinfarction, whichever occurred first) and cardiac death in patients with hypertension treated with diltiazem compared with results in those treated with placebo. Similar effects were not observed in patients without a history of hypertension. When first recurrent cardiac events were used as the end point, the diltiazem:placebo hazard ratio (95% confidence limits) was 0.77 (0.58, 1.01) for the total hypertension group, and 0.67 (0.47, 0.96) and 1.32 (0.83, 2.10) for patients with hypertension with and without pulmonary congestion during the acute infarction, respectively. Similar results were observed using cardiac death as the end point. Beta blockers had a negligible effect on the hypertension-diltiazem relation. These findings suggest that diltiazem may exert a long-term beneficial effect in most patients with hypertension who do not have pulmonary congestion during an acute infarction, and a detrimental effect in the minority who have pulmonary congestion.