The large cohort of white men (317,871) 35 to 57 years old at initial screening for possible enrollment into the Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial (MRFIT) was examined with regard to initial blood pressure levels and subsequent coronary heart disease (CHD), stroke, and all-cause mortality. The overall prevalence of isolated systolic hypertension (ISH), defined as systolic blood pressure (SBP) greater than or equal to 160 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure (DBP) less than 90 mm Hg, was 0.67% among white men screened for MRFIT and increased with age (0.31% among 35- to 39-year-olds to 1.7% among 55- to 57-year-olds). The 6 year CHD and all-cause mortality rates in men over 50 were highest in those with ISH compared with both subjects with diastolic hypertension and those with normal pressure. The relative risk of death from stroke in those with ISH, compared with that in those with SBP less than 160 mm Hg and those with DBP less than 90 mm Hg, was 3.0 (95% confidence interval 1.3 to 6.8). In addition, at any level of DBP, the level of SBP appeared to be the major determinant of all-cause and CHD mortality. The determinants of ISH in individuals under 60 years of age as well as the possible efficacy of its treatment should be evaluated further.