Of 3,981 patients with a first Q-wave acute myocardial infarction (AMI), 1,929 (48%) had an anterior and 1,724 (43%) an inferior wall AMI. These 2 groups were well-matched with respect to age, gender and relevant history. The in-hospital mortality rate was 18%, and the 1- and 5-year postdischarge mortality rates were 9 and 25%, respectively, in patients with anterior wall AMI compared with the corresponding rates of 11, 6 and 19% in those with inferior wall AMI (p < 0.0001 for each category). The frequency of recurrent nonfatal AMI in the year after the index AMI was 8% in the patients with anterior wall AMI compared with 4% in those with inferior wall AMI (p < 0.0001). By multiple logistic regression analysis of events, anterior wall AMI was an independent predictor of in-hospital mortality only. The findings indicate that the anatomic location of a Q-wave AMI influences immediate and short-term survival of patients with a first Q-wave AMI.