Non-ST segment elevation acute coronary syndromes (NSTE ACS) include a clinical spectrum that ranges from unstable angina to NSTE myocardial infarction. Management goals aim to prevent recurrent ACS and improve long-term outcomes by choosing a treatment strategy according to an estimate of the risk of an adverse outcome. Recent registry data suggest that patients with NSTE ACS frequently do not receive recommended treatment, and that risk stratification is not used to determine either the choice of treatment or the speed of access to coronary angiography. The present article evaluates the evidence for recommended treatment using information from recent trials and guidelines published by the major cardiac organizations in Europe and North America. Using this information, a multidisciplinary group developed a simplified algorithm that uses risk stratification to select an optimal early management strategy. Long-term outcomes are improved by a multi-faceted vascular protection strategy that is initiated at the time of hospitalization for NSTE ACS.