Abstract Seventy-four patients with chronic stable mild angina, mild coronary artery disease (83% had one- or two-vessel disease) and normal left ventricular function were studied to measure the response of treadmill exercise performance and painful and silent ischemia in the ambulatory setting to randomly assigned treatment with nifedipine or propranolol and their combination; titration to maximal tolerated dosages was performed in doubleblind manner. At 3 months both nifedipine and propranolol reduced the weekly angina rate (p < 0.05); during treadmill exercise testing, increases (p < 0.05) were noted in time to angina and total exercise time and decreases in maximal ST depression at the end of exercise. There were no differences between the responses to nifedipine and propranolol and no significant additional changes were seen after another 3 months of therapy. The combination of nifedipine and propranolol reduced the number of patients with angina on exercise treadmill testing from 64% to 38% (p < 0.05). During ambulatory electrocardiographic monitoring before treatment, there were 1.4 ± 2.4 (mean ± SD) episodes/24 h of painful ischemia and a very low silent ischemia frequency: mean 1.1 ± 2.7 episodes/24 h, mean duration 16 ± 25 min/24 h. Treatment with propranolol and nifedipine resulted in reduction of episodes and duration of painful and painless ischemia; approximately 77% of patients were free of all ischemic episodes. It is concluded that patients with chronic stable mild angina have a low incidence of silent ischemia. Nifedipine or propranolol alone, titrated to individualized maximally tolerated dosages, are equally effective in long-term control of painful and painless ischemia, anginal episodes and exercise-induced ischemia. Combination therapy further reduced only exercise-induced angina and maximal exercise-induced ST depression.