Fifty patients with acute myocardial infarction were randomly assigned to receive either intracoronary streptokinase or standard (control) therapy within about three hours after the onset of pain. Coronary perfusion was reestablished in 19 of 24 patients receiving streptokinase. Streptokinase alleviated pain (as indicated by differences in subsequent morphine use). The Killip class was significantly improved after therapy with streptokinase, as were changes in radionuclide ejection fraction between Days 1 and 10 in surviving patients (+3.9 vs. -3.0 per cent, P less than 0.01). The echocardiographic wall-motion index also showed greater improvement after streptokinase treatment (P less than 0.01). Streptokinase therapy was associated with rapid evolution of electrocardiographic changes, which were essentially complete within three hours after therapy, but loss of R waves, ST elevation, and development of Q waves in the convalescent period were greater in the control group (P less than 0.01). The time required to reach peak plasma enzyme concentrations was significantly shorter after streptokinase. The incidence of early and late ventricular arrhythmias was not affected by treatment. We conclude that intracoronary streptokinase appears to have a beneficial effect on the early course of acute myocardial infarction.