To investigate the myocardial perfusion correlates of precordial ST segment depression during acute inferior myocardial infarction, a rest thallium-201 scintigram and a closely timed 12 lead electrocardiogram were obtained within 6 hours of the onset of infarction in 44 patients admitted with their first acute inferior myocardial infarction. Thirty-six patients demonstrated precordial ST segment depression (group 1) and eight did not (group 2). A perfusion defect involving the inferior wall was present in all 44 patients. Additional perfusion defects of the adjacent posterolateral wall (n = 20), the ventricular septum (n = 9) or both (n = 6) were present in 35 of 36 patients from group 1 compared with only 1 of 8 patients from group 2 (p less than 0.001). There was no significant difference in the frequency of multivessel coronary artery disease or disease of the left anterior descending artery between group 1 and group 2 or between patients with and those without a thallium-201 perfusion defect involving the ventricular septum. Thus, precordial ST segment depression during an acute inferior myocardial infarction is associated with thallium-201 scintigraphic evidence of more extensive involvement of the adjacent posterolateral or inferoseptal myocardial segments, which probably reflects the extent and pattern of distribution of the artery of infarction, rather than the presence of coexistent multivessel coronary artery disease or disease of the left anterior descending artery.