BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE An impaired glucose tolerance as well as type 2 diabetes are associated with an increased cardiovascular mortality. This study was undertaken to determine whether this is also true for impaired glucose tolerance in immediate temporal relation with an acute myocardial infarction (AMI). PATIENTS AND METHODS The survival of 562 patients (232 females, 330 males; age 68 +/- 13 years) consecutively admitted to the intensive care unit of a medical department with the diagnosis of AMI, were prospectively evaluated over a span of more than 3 years. Type 2 diabetes had been previously known in 152, while it was newly diagnosed in 83 patients. Oral glucose tolerance tests (OGTT) were performed in 129, but the test was not performed in 222 patients. Survival was analysed with the Kaplan-Meier test. RESULTS Among the 129 patients who had had an OGTT, it was normal in 60 (47%), 45 (35%) had impaired glucose tolerance and 24 (19%) were found to have previously undiagnosed diabetes (WHO criteria). Survival of all patients with type 2-diabetes was significantly worse than in the remainder of patients (p < 0.0001). In patients with impaired glucose tolerance the survival time was significantly shorter than in those with normal glucose tolerance (p = 0.029). Even after excluding those patients who had died in the acute post-infarction phase, the difference between patients with normal and with impaired glucose tolerance remained significant (p = 0.034). CONCLUSION Patients with impaired glucose tolerance have a significantly shorter survival after AMI than those with a normal glucose tolerance. Blood glucose concentration 2 hours after oral glucose intake thus seems to be an important predictor of death after AMI.