There is concern over the safety of calcium channel blockers (CCBs) in acute coronary disease. We sought to determine if patients taking calcium channel blockers (CCBs) at the time of admission with acute myocardial infarction (AMI) had a higher case-fatality compared with those taking beta-blockers or neither medication. Clinical and drug treatment variables at the time of hospital admission predictive of survival at 28 days were examined in a community-based registry of patients aged under 65 years admitted to hospital for suspected AMI in Perth, Australia, between 1984 and 1993. Among 7766 patients, 1291 (16.6%) were taking a CCB and 1259 (16.2%) a betablocker alone at hospital admission. Patients taking CCBs had a worse clinical profile than those taking a beta-blocker alone or neither drug (control group), and a higher unadjusted 28-day mortality (17.6% versus 9.3% and 11.1% respectively, both P <0.001). There was no significant heterogeneity with respect to mortality between nifedipine, diltiazem, or verapamil when used alone, or with a beta-blocker. After adjustment for factors predictive of death at 28 days, patients taking a CCB were found not to have an excess chance of death compared with the control group (odds ratio [OR] 1.06, 95% confidence interval [CI]; 0.87, 1.30), whereas those taking a beta-blocker alone had a lower odds of death (OR 0.75, 95% CI; 0.59, 0.94). These results indicate that established calcium channel blockade is not associated with an excess risk of death following AMI once other differences between patients are taken into account, but neither does it have the survival advantage seen with prior beta-blocker therapy.