Of 576 patients with non-Q-wave acute myocardial infarction enrolled in the Diltiazem Reinfarction Study, 246 (43%) had 1 or more episodes of angina at rest or with minimal effort during 10.5 days of treatment with either diltiazem (90 mg every 6 hours) or placebo. Reinfarction (12.2% vs 3.6%, p <0.0001) or death (6.1% vs 1.5%, p = 0.003) was more likely to occur within 2 weeks of randomization in patients with postinfarction angina than in those without angina. Based on serial electrocardiographic data, 115 of the 246 patients with angina had transient ST-T changes and 131 did not. Comparison of the 14-day event rates in these 2 groups showed that the 115 patients with electrocardiographic evidence of ischemia had a higher frequency of reinfarction (20% vs 5.3%, p <0.001), more extensive damage as assessed by peak MB-creatine kinase levels (91 ± 76 vs 37 ± 19 IU/liter, p = 0.059 [Wilcoxon rank sum]) and a higher mortality rate(11.3% vs 1.5%, p = 0.001). Angina associated with transient ST-T changes occurred in 70 of the 289 patients in the placebo group but in only 45 of the 287 patients in the diltiazem group-a 28% reduction in cumulative life-table incidence (p = 0.0103 [2-tail, log rank]; 95% confidence interval, 9.3 to 53.8%). It is concluded that patients with early postinfarction angina are at increased risk of reinfarction and death, and angina associated with transient electrocardiographic changes identified a very high risk subset. This subset appeared to have a larger area of viable but jeopardized myocardium and benefited from prophylactic therapy with diltiazem.