The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between the presence or absence of ST segment depression in inferior leads (II, III, and aVF) and ST segment elevation in lateral (I and aVL) or left precordial (V5 and V6) leads with the amount and location of myocardium at risk for infarction in patients with acute anterior myocardial infarction. Forty-three patients with anterior infarctions were injected with technetium 99m-sestamibi when they were first seen and underwent tomographic imaging to measure the amount and location of myocardium at risk. Patients with inferior ST depression (n = 10) compared with those without ST depression (n = 33) had perfusion defects that extended significantly further into the lateral wall (47 degrees vs 20 degrees, p = 0.04) and larger anterior injury vectors (6.47 vs 4.92, p = 0.008). There was no significant association with the percentage of myocardium at risk, disease of the right coronary artery, the presence of an inferior perfusion defect, or the size of the inferior injury vector. Among the patients with ST elevation in lateral leads (n = 16) compared with those without (n = 27), there was a significantly more lateral defect border (47 degrees vs 25 degrees, p = 0.007) and a larger anterior injury vector (6.07 vs 4.81, p = 0.01). There was no significant correlation with the percentage of myocardium at risk. A significant relationship could not be demonstrated between the presence of ST elevation in the left precordial leads and any measure of the amount or location of myocardium at risk. These data support the theory that inferior ST depression in patients with transmural anterior ischemia is a "reciprocal" finding and does not represent inferior ischemia. The presence of inferior ST depression or lateral ST elevation is associated with a more lateral perfusion defect. Neither of these ECG findings is associated with the amount of myocardium at risk for infarction.