The prognostic significance of the type of first acute myocardial infarction (Q wave versus non-Q wave) and Q wave location (anterior versus inferoposterior) was determined from a multicenter data base involving 777 placebo-treated patients who were participants in the Multicenter Diltiazem Post-Infarction Trial. There were 224 patients (29%) with a non-Q wave infarction, 326 (42%) with an inferoposterior Q wave infarction and 227 (29%) with an anterior Q wave infarction. Mean left ventricular ejection fraction was significantly (p less than 0.001) lower in patients with an anterior Q wave infarction than in the other two groups (anterior Q wave 0.39; inferior Q wave 0.52; non-Q wave 0.53). Nevertheless, the total cardiac mortality rate during the follow-up period (average 25 months per patient) was only marginally higher (p = 0.42) in the anterior Q wave group (8.4%) than in the other two groups (inferoposterior Q wave 7.1%; non-Q wave 6.3%). The total first recurrent cardiac event was somewhat higher (p = 0.08) in the anterior Q wave group (18.1%) than in the other two groups (inferoposterior Q wave 11.7%; non-Q wave 15.6%). Survivorship analyses extending over 3 years revealed that electrocardiographic classification of the type of first infarction and Q wave location did not make significant independent contributions to the risk of postinfarction cardiac death or first recurrent cardiac event, either before or after adjustment for baseline clinical variables.