Stratification of the individual bleeding risk prior to initiation of anticoagulation in patients with acute venous thromboembolism (VTE) has the potential to assist clinicians in making decisions about the proper intensity and duration of antithrombotic therapy. It is unclear which of the validated and internationally accepted scores recommended for the achievement of this important task has the best predictive value. We compared the predictive value of four validated scores (by Landefeld, Beyth, Kuijer and Ruiz-Gimenez, respectively) for the development of major bleeding complications occurring in the first 3 months in patients with acute VTE treated with conventional anticoagulation. Based on the population of RIETE Registry (international registry of patients with acute VTE), we identified those patients presenting all the required prognostic variables, and then calculated the ability of each score for predicting the bleeding risk. Of 40,265 eligible patients, we identified 8,717 meeting the recruitment criteria. Overall, 0.9 % of patients experienced at least one episode of major bleeding within 90 days of the index event. The proportion of patients classified as having a low risk varied between 1.2 and 3.7 %, that of patients having an intermediate risk between 76 and 93 %, and that of patients classified as having a high risk between 6.1 and 18 %. The area under the receiver operating characteristic ranged between 0.55 and 0.60, the positive predictive value between 1.5 and 3.2, and the likelihood ratio between 0.72 and 1.59. In conclusion, all four scores show a very low ability to predict the bleeding risk in patients with acute VTE undergoing conventional anticoagulation.