The extent of collateral circulation in 46 patients who had intracoronary thrombolysis within six hours of the onset of acute myocardial infarction was evaluated. Patients who had had a previous myocardial infarction (4 cases) or who had spontaneously recanalized infarct related coronary arteries (5 cases) were excluded from the analysis. Collateral development was graded during coronary cineangiography according to the extent of opacification of the collateral and epicardial arteries distal to the site of occlusion (collateral index 0 to 3). Angina was considered to be present before myocardial infarction if it had occurred more than one week before acute myocardial infarction. Collateral channels were visible in only two of 19 patients without angina before infarction and nine of the 18 patients with angina before infarction. The prevalence of angina and the collateral index were not significantly influenced by the extent of coronary vessel disease. It is concluded that myocardial ischaemia is important in promoting collateral development in man as well as in laboratory animals.