Hepatic encephalopathy and gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding are the most serious complications in cirrhosis. The purpose of this study was to examine survival after the first episode of GI bleeding or coma, or both, and to identify variables associated with the subsequent survival in 284 consecutive patients with cirrhosis admitted to one division of hepatology over a period of 81 months. Patients who only bled had markedly longer survival than those who only had coma, whereas those who had both bleeding and coma had by far the poorest survival, only 15% being alive 1 year later. Several other variables showed a significant association with survival. In a Cox multiple regression analysis the following four variables showed significant association with a short survival: coma and bleeding at the episode, ascites, low prothrombin index, and high serum creatinine. The prognostic index derived from the Cox model, which was validated by a split-sample testing technique, may be used to refine prognostic estimation in this subgroup of severely ill cirrhotic patients.