OBJECTIVES We investigated the clinical utility of B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) assay in stable outpatients with nonischemic dilated cardiomyopathy (NICM) after decompensated heart failure (HF). BACKGROUND Patients with NICM admitted for decompensated HF frequently experience sudden death or redecompensation after hospital discharge. The prognostic value of BNP during hospitalization has been demonstrated. However, clinical utility of BNP in stable outpatient setting has been poorly investigated. METHODS Eighty-three NICM outpatients who were clinically stable in New York Heart Association functional class 1 to 2 for 6 months after discharge for decompensated HF were enrolled, and then followed for an additional 18 months. The main end point was first readmission for decompensated HF or death. B-type natriuretic peptide levels were measured at 3-month intervals from discharge to enrollment, and echocardiographic dimensions at discharge and enrollment. RESULTS Mean discharge BNP level was 210 +/- 148 pg/ml. Twenty-eight patients were readmitted for decompensated HF or suddenly died at a median time of 11 months from the time of discharge. Among various variables including BNP measurements, clinical parameters and echocardiographic dimensions, a 6-month post-discharge BNP of >190 pg/ml was most closely associated with combined event in the Cox proportional hazards model (hazard ratio 2.29; 95% confidence interval 1.42 to 3.56; p = 0.0005), and had the best discriminatory power (area under the receiver operating characteristic curve 0.91, sensitivity 96%; specificity 76%). CONCLUSIONS Even in stable low-risk outpatients with NICM at 6 months after hospital discharge for decompensated HF, BNP assessment predicts a long-term risk of redecompensation.