This study tests the hypothesis that it is possible to predict people who will have a low quality of life (QOL) 6 months after hospital admission for acute myocardial infarction (AMI) or angina. Among 424 patients discharged from hospital in the Hunter Region of New South Wales with a diagnosis of AMI or angina, follow-up questionnaires were received from 303 at 6 months. Baseline data collected during hospitalisation included demographic variables and the 'emotional' factor of a disease-specific QOL measure using a modified and validated self-administered questionnaire. The full QOL measure comprises 'emotional', 'physical' and 'social' factors, each factor being assessed at the 6-month follow-up. Only baseline 'emotional' QOL score and sex predicted 6-month QOL scores in patients with AMI. Scores were consistently lower in patients with angina, in whom marital and employment status, having had a previous AMI, current cigarette smoking, the presence of cardiac failure and baseline emotional QOL were all significantly associated with the 6-month QOL scores. The assessment of simple measures during hospitalisation for angina can be helpful in predicting those who will have a low QOL 6 months later. They may represent a high-risk group at whom counselling could be directed.