Abstract Aims Out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) has been reported to carry very varying morbidity and mortality. However, it remains unclear whether this is caused by intrinsic factors of the OHCA or due to the level of in-hospital care. The aim of this study is to compare 30-day and long-term mortality after OHCA at tertiary heart centres and non-tertiary university hospitals. Methods and results Data from the Copenhagen OHCA registry from June 2002 through December 2010 included a total of 1218 consecutive patients treated by the same mobile emergency care unit (MECU) with either return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC) or on-going resuscitation (n=53) at hospital arrival. The MECU transported patients to the nearest hospital unless an ECG on scene suggested ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction, in which case patients were transported to the nearest tertiary centre for acute coronary angiography. Therefore, patients with ST-elevation myocardial infarction (n=198) were excluded from the analysis. 30-day mortality was 56% vs. 76% and long term (up to 8years) mortality was 78% vs. 94% for tertiary and non-tertiary hospitals, respectively, both p<0.001. Multivariate analysis showed that admission to a non-tertiary hospital was independently associated with increased risk of death (HR=1.32, 95% CI: 1.09–1.59, p=0.004). Exclusion of patients with on-going resuscitation at admission resulted in HR=1.34 (1.11–1.62), p=0.003. A matched pair propensity score analysis of 255 patients confirmed the results of the proportional hazard analysis (HR=1.35, 95% CI: 1.11–1.65 p=0.003). Conclusion Admission to tertiary centres is associated with lower mortality rates after OHCA compared with non-tertiary hospitals.