We examined the role that ambient air pollution plays in exacerbating cardiac disease by relating daily fluctuations in admissions to 134 hospitals for congestive heart failure in the elderly to daily variations in ambient concentrations of carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, ozone, and the coefficient of haze in Canada's 10 largest cities for the 11-year period 1981-1991 inclusive. We adjusted the hospitalization time series for seasonal, subseasonal, and weekly cycles and for hospital usage patterns. The logarithm of the daily high-hour ambient carbon monoxide concentration recorded on the day of admission displayed the strongest and most consistent association with hospitalization rates among the pollutants, after stratifying the time series by month of year and adjusting simultaneously for temperature, dew point, and the other ambient air pollutants. The relative risk for a change from 1 ppm to 3 ppm, the 25th and 75th percentiles of the exposure distribution, was 1.065 (95% confidence interval = 1.028-1.104). The regression coefficients of the other air pollutants were much more sensitive to simultaneous adjustment for either multiple pollutant or weather model specifications.