Left ventricular (LV) hypertrophy is known to be an independent risk factor for cardiac death, but its significance in non-Q-wave acute myocardial infarction (AMI) has not been assessed previously. In a randomized diltiazem-placebo-controlled therapeutic trial of non-Q-wave AMI confirmed by creatine kinase-MB (CK-MB), 126 of 544 patients (23%) exhibited LV hypertrophy using standard voltage criteria. Compared to patients without LV hypertrophy, patients with LV hypertrophy were significantly older (65 vs 60 years, p < 0.0001) and had smaller peak adjusted CK levels (490 ± 376 vs 666 ± 726 IU/liter, p < 0.001) than patients without LV hypertrophy. Patients with and without LV hypertrophy did not differ significantly in acute mortality during hospitalization, progression to Q waves, reinfarction by CK-MB criteria or angina associated with transient electrocardiographic changes. Compared with patients without LV hypertrophy, those patients with non-Q-wave AMI and LV hypertrophy had a 2-fold higher incidence of reinfarction (24 vs 12%, p < 0.005) and death (19 vs 9%, p = 0.044) during the first year of follow-up. Multivariate regression analysis revealed that the relative risk of death and reinfarction during the initial year after AMI was increased by a factor of 1.7 and 2.1 among patients with LV hypertrophy, respectively. It was therefore concluded that, although patients with LV hypertrophy and non-Q-wave AMI have smaller enzymatic infarcts and the same short-term prognosis as do patients without LV hypertrophy, their reinfarction and mortality rates are significantly increased during the first year of follow-up. Thus, patients with LV hypertrophy may warrant more intensive diagnostic evaluation and management during the recovery phase of non-Q-wave AMI.