Early myocardial scintigraphic imaging has become technically feasible in patients admitted to hospital with suspected acute myocardial infarction. After prompt injection of 99mTc-sestamibi, subsequent scintigraphic imaging of perfused myocardium can be performed. During a 5-month period, 237 patients were admitted to the coronary care unit of a district hospital on suspicion of acute ischaemic syndrome, and injection of 99mTc-sestamibi for the performance of myocardial scintigraphy was carried out in 134 patients, on average 2 h after onset of symptoms. The investigation was repeated in 126 patients, on average 18 h after the injection. Three planar views were taken in the coronary care unit with a mobile gamma camera. The prevalence of acute myocardial infarction was 53%. The predictive value at the first scintigraphic imaging for a positive or negative test for myocardial infarction 54% and 56%, respectively. Even exclusion of patients with a previous infarction did not increase the diagnostic validity. The predictive value of a negative test, 77%, at the second scintigraphy was still insufficient to make immediate therapeutic decisions. Myocardial scintigraphy performed early, on suspicion of acute myocardial infarction, cannot therefore be used routinely as a diagnostic test prior to intervention in unselected patients because some 90% of this patient group have myocardial perfusion defects.