Current treatment modalities for patients with acute coronary syndromes center on early diagnosis, risk stratification and, increasingly, early treatment including invasive approaches. The appropriate timing of these invasive modalities in the context of the overall treatment program remains an area of controversy. Specifically, studies in the past recommended a period of medical 'stabilization' while current approaches are considerably more aggressive. The potential hazard of early intervention, in particular, has not properly been weighed against the benefit. This article hopes to provide a framework for examining the appropriate timing of intervention, specifically percutaneous coronary intervention, in acute coronary syndromes.