In 422 patients admitted from the emergency department (ED) for suspected acute myocardial infarction, the hypothesis that chest pain that persists on arrival in the ED or recurs during the initial ED evaluation is a useful predictor of acute myocardial infarction (AMI) and complications of coronary ischemia was tested. Compared with patients whose chest pain spontaneously ceased before arrival in the ED, patients whose chest pain persisted or recurred during the initial ED evaluation had a 2.3 times greater risk of interventions (P less than .001), a 1.7 times greater risk of complications (P = .045), a 3.8 times greater risk of life-threatening complications (P = .04), and a 2.4 times greater risk of AMI (P = .005). A third group of patients with suspected AMI never experienced chest pain. This group of patients who never experienced chest pain had a three times higher risk of death (P = .02) compared with patients whose chest pain persisted or recurred in the ED, and a 2.1 times greater risk of intervention (P = .01), a 5.2 times greater risk of life-threatening complication (P = .015), and a 7.9 times greater risk of death (P = .025) compared with patients whose chest pain resolved before arrival in the ED. It was concluded that patients with chest pain that resolves spontaneously before arrival to the ED have a better in-hospital prognosis than any other group.