To identify predictors of mortality in medically treated patients with symptomatic coronary artery disease, 30 variables were analyzed in 4,083 patients. Regression analysis demonstrated that seven variables were independent predictors of survival. A high risk subgroup (annual mortality rate above 5%) was identified, consisting of patients with either a congestive heart failure score of 3 to 4 or 1 mm or greater ST segment depression and final exercise stage of 1 or less. When all 30 variables were analyzed conjointly, the left ventricular contraction pattern (p less than 0.0001) and the number of diseased coronary vessels (p less than 0.003) proved to be the most important predictors of survival. In a subgroup of 572 patients with three vessel coronary disease and preserved left ventricular function, the probability of survival at 4 years ranged from 53% for patients only able to achieve stage 1/2 of exercise to 100% for patients able to exercise into stage 5 (p less than 0.004). Thus, in patients with defined coronary pathoanatomy, clinical and exercise variables primarily relating to the functional state of the left ventricle are helpful in assessing prognosis.