A multicentred, randomised, blind study was started in 1978 to compare propranolol or hyaluronidase with placebo in patients with acute myocardial infarction admitted within 18 hours of onset of symptoms. Patients were randomised to group A and received hyaluronidase, propranolol, or placebo, or, if propranolol was contraindicated, to group B and received hyaluronidase or placebo. Hyaluronidase (500 U/kg given every six hours for 48 hours) had no effect on mortality or infarct size in the overall population. Because spontaneous reperfusion was more common in patients with early peaking of plasma creatine kinase MB or non-transmural electrocardiographic changes or both, the results were reanalysed for two subgroups: those in whom plasma creatine kinase peaked less than 15 hours after the onset of symptoms (early peak, n = 184) and those with a peak greater than 15 h after the onset of symptoms (late peak, n = 546). The distribution of time to peak activity of creatine kinase MB was similar in the hyaluronidase and placebo groups. In the early peak patients who were given hyaluronidase (groups A and B) total mortality and cardiac-specific four year mortality were significantly lower. This was most pronounced in group B in which the total mortality was 45% and cardiovascular mortality was 47% less than in the placebo group. Similarly, mortality from cardiovascular disease in patients (groups A and B) with nontransmural ischaemia (ST-T changes) given hyaluronidase was significantly lower, with group B showing a 50% reduction. In the subsets of patients with late peaking of creatine kinase MB or those presenting with transmural electrocardiographic changes there was no difference in total mortality or deaths from cardiac disease between those given hyaluronidase and those given placebo. Hyaluronidase was associated with improved survival in patients with early peaking of plasma creatine kinase MB, suggesting the possibility of salvage of myocardium in patients who have early spontaneous reperfusion and possibly after therapeutic reperfusion.