In a community-based study of approximately 105,000 people, 184 presented with a transient ischemic attack during the 5 years between 1981 and 1986; we believe these persons represent almost all new cases of transient ischemic attack going to a doctor during that period. During a mean follow-up of 3.7 years 49 patients died, 45 had a first-ever stroke, and 17 had a myocardial infarction. Cardiac disease accounted for 17 (35%) deaths, while stroke was the cause of death in 15 patients (31%). The average actuarial risk of death was approximately 6.3%/yr, slightly greater than that expected for similar people without transient ischemic attacks (risk ratio [observed divided by expected] = 1.4). The actuarial risk of stroke was 11.6% during the first year after a transient ischemic attack and approximately 5.9%/yr over the first 5 years. Patients who suffered a transient ischemic attack had a 13-fold excess risk of stroke during the first year and a sevenfold excess risk over the first 7 years compared with people without transient ischemic attacks. The actuarial risk of death, stroke, or myocardial infarction over the first 5 years after a transient ischemic attack was approximately 8.4%/yr. The prognosis in this community-based cohort was better than that in previous reports. The high early risk of stroke means that investigation and treatment of new cases should commence as soon as possible.