To assess the correlation of S-T segment elevations and the height of R waves of the precordial electrocardiogram with myocardial infarct size, we performed 35 lead precordial electrocardiograms (maps) in 24 patients with uncomplicated acute anterior transmural myocardial infarction. The initial analysis was carried out in 14 patients. Infarct size was estimated from the integration, from normal baseline to baseline, of serial serum creatine kinase (CK) values obtained at 2 to 4 hour intervals and expressed as IU/liter·hours. The first electrocardiographic maps were recorded 12 hours or less after the onset of symptoms. All S-T segment elevations and R waves were summed for each map (∑S-T and ∑R). There were positive correlations between the ultimate CK infarct size and the initially recorded ∑S-T (r = 0.69), the initially recorded log ∑R (r = - 0.70) and the initial early decline in log ∑R per hour [(Δlog ∑R/Δhour)·103, r = 0.88]. Therefore, these variables were combined in a multiple regression analysis; CK infarct size = 0.23 ∑S-T + 0.20 [(Δlog ∑R/Δhour)·103]- 14.9 log ∑R + 36.8 (r = 0.97). In addition, on the basis of previous studies the initially recorded ∑S-T and log ∑R values were normalized with respect to time by calculating the expected ∑S-T value at 12 hours after the onset of symptoms (∑S-T12) and the 12 hour interpolated values for ∑R (∑R12). These values also showed a good correlation with infarct size: CK infarct size = 0.37 ∑S-T12 + 0.16 [(Δlog ∑R/Δhour)·103]t- 18.2 log ∑R12 + 40.4 (r = 0.97). To validate this approach, 10 additional patients were studied prospectively. Correlations between CK infarct size and the various measurements from the serial precordial maps were similar to those in the first study group, and CK infarct size correlated well with the electrocardiographic infarct estimates (r = 0.90 and r = 0.95, respectively). It is concluded that in selected patients CK infarct size can be directly related to the initial height of S-T segment elevations and the early rate of R wave decline and inversely related to later ∑R values, thereby providing a general approach for use in studies on the estimation of myocardial infarct size from precordial electrocardiographic maps.