A nonlinear artificial neural network trained by backpropagation was applied to the diagnosis of acute myocardial infarction (coronary occlusion) in patients presenting to the emergency department with acute anterior chest pain. Three-hundred and fifty-six patients were retrospectively studied, of which 236 did not have acute myocardial infarction and 120 did have infarction. The network was trained on a randomly chosen set of half of the patients who had not sustained acute myocardial infarction and half of the patients who had sustained infarction. It was then tested on a set consisting of the remaining patients to which it had not been exposed. The network correctly identified 92% of the patients with acute myocardial infarction and 96% of the patients without infarction. When all patients with the electrocardiographic evidence of infarction were removed from the cohort, the network correctly identified 80% of the patients with infarction. This is substantially better than the performance reported for either physicians or any other analytical approach.