Significant delays in seeking definitive treatment for the signs and symptoms of acute myocardial infarction increase morbidity and mortality. In most studies, delay times average more than 4 hours. The following variables are associated with increased delay: a medical history of angina, diabetes mellitus, or hypertension; older age; black race; seeking advice from a family member or a physician; symptom onset on a weekday; and attempts at self-treatment. Variables associated with reduced delay times are the following: pain recognized as cardiac in origin, hemodynamic instability, severe chest pain, younger age, and consultation with a coworker. Surprisingly, patients who have already experienced a myocardial infarction are just as likely to delay as patients who have not had this experience. These findings provide direction for developing and testing patient and family interventions, establishing community education programs, and reducing patient delay in response to the signs and symptoms of acute myocardial infarction.