Between December 1991 and February 19999, 25 patients (56 +/- 10 years) underwent salvage angioplasty with coronary stenting after failure of thrombolysis (TIMI 2), rtPA (N = 18), n-PA (N = 4), K2-tu-PA (N = 2) and streptokinase (N = 1). All were treated by aspirin and 96% were given ticlopidine for one month. The culprit artery was the left anterior descending (48%), the left circumflex (8%) or the right coronary (44%). The average ejection fraction was 41%; 4 patients (16%) had cardiogenic shock. The stents were implanted for occlusive coronary dissection (36%), threatening dissection (40%), partial result of angioplasty (20%) or of first intention (4%). In all, 31 stents were implanted (1.2 +/- 0.57 stent/target lesion ratio with an average length of 20.9 +/- 10.2 mm). The stents were tabular in 51% of cases. The angiographic success rate (TIMI 3 and residual stenosis < 50%) was 96% with maximum inflation pressures of 13.7 +/- 2.5 atm and balloons with an average diameter of 3.3 +/- 0.5 mm. Intra-aortic balloon pumping was required in 7 patients (28%). The 30 day results included a mortality rate of 16% (4 patients), a recurrence of infarction in 4%; there were no repeat angioplasties, coronary bypass surgery or blood transfusions. The predictive factors of recurrent coronary events were: age over 60 (p = 0.04), multivessel coronary disease (p = 0.007), cardiogenic shock (p = 0.004) and left ventricular dysfunction (p = 0.015). The authors conclude that cases of failure of thrombolysis are at high risk and that salvage angioplasty with coronary stenting is associated with excellent angiographic results. Patients with cardiogenic shock, however, have a high mortality, irrespective of coronary patency and the use of intra-aortic balloon pumping.