Controlled clinical trials of the treatment of acute myocardial infarction offer a unique opportunity for the study of the potential influence on outcome of bias in treatment assignment. A group of 145 papers was divided into those in which the randomization process was blinded (57 papers), those in which it may have been unblinded (45 papers), and those in which the controls were selected by a nonrandom process (43 papers). At least one prognostic variable was maldistributed (P less than 0.05) in 14.0 per cent of the blinded-randomization studies, in 26.7 per cent of the unblinded-randomization studies, and in 58.1 per cent of the nonrandomized studies. Differences in case-fatality rates between treatment and control groups (P less than 0.05) were found in 8.8 per cent of the blinded-randomization studies, 24.4 per cent of the unblinded-randomization studies, and 58.1 per cent of the nonrandomized studies. These data emphasize the importance of keeping those who recruit patients for clinical trials from suspecting which treatment will be assigned to the patient under consideration.