Balloon angioplasty as the treatment of first choice in the setting of an acute myocardial infarction (AMI) is gaining widespread acceptance because of favourable results from specialised centres concerning high patency rates and low mortality. This study reports the results of angioplasty for AMI at large community hospitals during 1992-1995. 4625 procedures were performed at 68 centres of the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Leitender Kardiologischer Krankenhausärzte (ALKK). The age of the patients was 60.8 +/- 11.3 years, with 75.1% men. The infarct related artery was the left anterior descendent in 43%, the right coronary artery in 37%, the circumflex artery in 16%, a bypass graft in 2.3% and the left main stem in 1.4% of patients. The success rate (residual stenosis < 50%) of the intervention was 86%. There was a wide range of procedures per centre, with a median of 40 AMI angioplasties per year and centre. The amount of angioplasties for AMI in relation to all angioplasties performed during this period rose from 5.2% in 1992 to 5.9% in 1995 (p = 0.01). Local complications at the puncture site occurred in 3.2%, with the need for a surgical intervention in 1.1% of patients. In 273 (5.9%) of the patients a second angioplasty was performed during the hospital stay. Aortocoronary bypass surgery was performed in 3% of the patients. Hospital mortality was 9.5% (438/4625 patients). The mortality rate remained constant during the years investigated (1992: 10.6%; 1993: 8.6%; 1994: 9.7%; 1995: 9.8%; p = ns). Higher mortality was observed in older patients, patients with multiple vessel disease, the left anterior descending artery or a bypass graft as infarct related artery as well as in patients with failed reperfusion (residual stenoses > 50%). Hospitals with a case load of more than 40 angioplasties for AMI per year showed a lower mortality as compared to the others. In clinical practice at large community hospitals results of angioplasty for AMI concerning mortality, complications and technical success rate are comparable to those of highly specialised centres. The absolute numbers of angioplasties for AMI increased constantly over the years.