Intravenous administration of 80 mg of recombinant tissue plasminogen activator (rt-PA, 40, 20, and 20 mg in successive hours) and streptokinase (SK, 1.5 million units over 1 hr) was compared in a double-blind, randomized trial in 290 patients with evolving acute myocardial infarction. These patients entered the trial within 7 hr of the onset of symptoms and underwent baseline coronary arteriography before thrombolytic therapy was instituted. Ninety minutes after the start of thrombolytic therapy, occluded infarct-related arteries had opened in 62% of 113 patients in the rt-PA and 31% of 119 patients in the SK group (p < .001). Twice as many occluded infarct-related arteries opened after rt-PA compared with SK at the time of each of seven angiograms obtained during the first 90 min after commencing thrombolytic therapy. Regardless of the time from onset of symptoms to treatment, more arteries were opened after rt-PA than SK. The reduction in circulating fibrinogen and plasminogen and the increase in circulating fibrin split products at 3 and 24 hr were significantly less in patients treated with rt-PA than in those treated with SK (p < .001). The occurrence of bleeding events, administration of blood transfusions, and reocclusion of the infarct-related artery was comparable in the two groups. Thus, in patients with acute myocardial infarction, rt-PA elicited reperfusion in twice as many occluded infarct-related arteries as compared with SK at each of seven serial observations during the first 90 min after onset of treatment.