A positive exercise electrocardiogram (ECG) has been proved to predict cardiovascular events in asymptomatic normolipidemic men. To study whether it is also predictive for hypercholesterolemic men, data from 3,806 asymptomatic hypercholesterolemic men in the Lipid Research Clinics Coronary Primary Prevention Trial were analyzed. All the men had performed a submaximal treadmill exercise test at baseline, before they were assigned to the cholestyramine or placebo treatment group. Because of missing or inconclusive data, 31 men were excluded from the analyses. A test was positive if the ST segment was displaced by ≥1 mm (visual code) or there was ≥10 μV-s change in the ST integral (computer code), or both. The prevalence of a positive test was 8.3%. During the 7 to 10 year (mean 7.4) follow-up period, the mortality rate from coronary heart disease was 6.7% (21 of 315) in men with a positive test and 1.3% (46 of 3,460) in men with a negative test (placebo and cholestyramine groups combined). The age-adjusted rate ratio for a positive test, compared with a negative test, was 6.7 in the placebo group and 4.8 in the cholestyramine group. With use of Cox's proportional hazards models, it was found that the risk of death from coronary heart disease associated with a positive test was 5.7 times higher in the placebo group and 4.9 times higher in the cholestyramine group after adjustment for age, smoking history, systolic blood pressure, high density lipoprotein cholesterol and low density lipoprotein cholesterol. A positive test was not significantly associated with nonfatal myocardial infarction. Thus, the results indicate that the exercise ECG response is a valuable and independent predictor of the risk of death from coronary heart disease in hypercholesterolemic men.