Recent documentation of a circadian variation in acute myocardial infarction (AMI) suggests that AMI is not a random event, but may frequently result from identifiable triggering activities. The possible triggers reported by 849 patients enrolled in the Multicenter Investigation of Limitation of Infarct Size were analyzed. Possible triggers were identified by 48.5% of the population; the most common were emotional upset (18.4%) and moderate physical activity (14.1%). Multiple possible triggers were reported by 13% of the population. Younger patients, men and those without diabetes mellitus were more likely to report a possible trigger than were older patients, women and those with diabetes. The likelihood of reporting a trigger was not affected by infarct size. This study suggests that potentially identifiable triggers may play an important role in AMI. Because potential triggering activities are common in persons with coronary artery disease, yet infrequently result in AMI, further studies are needed to identify (1) the circumstances in which a potential trigger may cause an event, (2) the specific nature of potential triggering activites, (3) the frequency of such activities in individuals who do not develop AMI and (4) the presence or absence of identifiable triggers in various subgroups of patients with infarction.