The prognostic value of thrombolytics, aspirin, beta-blockers and ACE-inhibitors has been well documented in large clinical trials, but the application of these drugs in clinical practice is not known. MITRA is a multicenter study of 54 hospitals in a defined region in southwest Germany. The aim is to document actual clinical practice (pilot phase) and to establish an individually optimised prognostic therapy for acute myocardial infarction, considering only the absolute contraindications for each drug. In the pilot phase, 1303 consecutive patients with acute transmural myocardial infarction were enrolled. The median age was 66 years, the prehospital time was 2.7 hours. 47% had an anterior infarction. In the subgroup of patients without absolute contraindications, only 53.4% were treated with thrombolytics, 87.6% with aspirin, 37.1% with beta-blocker, and 17.4% with ACE-inhibitor. Out of these, patients were classified as "optimally treated" if they received thrombolysis, aspirin as well as beta-blocker. Patients were also included if any of these medications was withheld in the presence of absolute contraindications. Treatment was defined suboptimal, if the patients did not receive any of these three medications despite the absence of absolute contraindications. Only 29% (n = 383) received an optimal post-infarction therapy and 71% (n = 775) a suboptimal treatment. The univariate analysis revealed 10 variables influencing optimal therapy. In this subgroup patients were younger, they more often had clear ECG-findings or left bundle branch block, an anterior infarction, acute cardiac failure, AV-block, bradycardia, recent trauma or surgery (less then 2 weeks) and a severe chronic obstructive lung disease. The prehospital time was more often available. Early mortality after 2 days was 5.0% versus 9.3% in the suboptimal treated patients (OR: 0.5, CI: 0.30-0.86) the total inhospital mortality was 10.9% in the optimal versus 17.7% in the suboptimal group (OR: 0.6, CI: 0.38-0.84). In a multivariate analysis the parameter "optimal treatment" was found to be an independent predictor of the early (OR = 0.4; CI: 0.20-0.69) and the inhospital mortality (OR = 0.4; CI: 0.25-0.64). The following in-hospital events occurred: stroke 2.8%, reinfarction 12.9%, cardiac failure 21.5%, cardiogenic shock 10.4% and in-hospital mortality 18.1% (2-days mortality 9.5%). Pharmacological therapy for acute myocardial infarction is inconsistent with the recommendations suggested in recent clinical trials and needs to be individually optimised. Optimal treatment is an independent predictor of early and inhospital mortality.