To determine the factors that influence the presence of collateral vessels during coronary occlusion, we performed standardized contrast injection of the contralateral coronary artery in 58 consecutive patients, without previous myocardial infarction, undergoing percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty for 1-vessel disease (left anterior descending artery in 45, right coronary artery: in 10 and left circumflex artery in 3). The presence of collateral vessels during coronary occlusion, defined as partial or complete epicardial opacification by collateral vessels of the vessel dilated, was related to clinical, angiographic and electrocardiographic parameters. The angiographic appearance of collateral vessels during balloon inflation showed a weak, although statistically significant, correlation to the percent diameter stenosis before angioplasty (r = 0.28; p = 0.03) and the duration of angina (r = 0.37; p = 0.004). By combining lesion severity with the duration of angina, collateral vessels during coronary occlusion were particularly related to a lesion severity greater than or equal to 70% and duration of angina greater than or equal to 3 months (p less than 0.001). Furthermore, the presence of collateral vessels was associated with an absence of ST-segment shift (greater than or equal to 1 mm) during 1 minute of coronary occlusion (p less than 0.001).