Previous clinical trials have shown that alpha(1)-adrenergic antagonists are not effective in subjects with heart failure (HF) and might increase HF rates when used for hypertension. However, alpha(1)-adrenergic antagonists may be prescribed to subjects with HF who have symptomatic benign prostatic hyperplasia. We sought to determine any association between alpha(1)-adrenergic antagonist use, commonly prescribed for benign prostatic hyperplasia, and the clinical outcomes of subjects with HF receiving contemporary therapy. An existing database of 388 subjects with decompensated HF admissions from 2002 to 2004 at the Veterans Affairs Hospital was analyzed according to the use of alpha(1)-adrenergic antagonists at discharge. Covariate-adjusted Cox proportional hazard models were used to examine any association with future admissions for decompensated HF and total mortality. Alpha-1-adrenergic antagonist therapy was prescribed in 25% of our HF population, predominantly for benign prostatic hyperplasia, and was not associated with significant increases in the combined risk of all-cause mortality and rehospitalization for HF (hazard ratio 1.24, 95% confidence interval 0.93 to 1.65, p = 0.14), HF hospitalization (hazard ratio 1.20, 95% confidence interval 0.85 to 1.70, p = 0.31), or all-cause mortality (hazard ratio 1.10, 95% confidence interval 0.78 to 1.56, p = 0.57). In patients not receiving beta-blocker therapy, alpha(1)-adrenergic antagonist therapy was significantly associated with increased HF hospitalizations (hazard ratio 1.94, 95% confidence interval 1.14 to 3.32, p = 0.015). In conclusion, in patients with chronic HF, the use of alpha(1)-adrenergic antagonists was significantly associated with more HF hospitalizations when prescribed without concomitant beta blockade. Thus, background beta-blocker therapy appears to be protective against the potential harmful effects of alpha(1)-adrenergic antagonist therapy in patients with HF.