The purpose of this study was to determine whether Vietnam veterans' risk for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was correlated with their premilitary school performance. The authors compared both primary and secondary school record data on hospitalized chemically dependent PTSD patients with those of both non-PTSD, chemically dependent and community controls. All participants were male Vietnam war combat veterans. The comparisons were made with MANCOVA analyses with the effects of combat and age differences between groups controlled. For the most part, primary-school grade point average, absenteeism, and tardiness data on three groups did not differ significantly. However, the mean secondary school grade points of the future PTSD patients were generally substantially lower than those of controls. Additionally, more secondary school absenteeism and tardiness were reported among future PTSD patients than in the controls. The groups did not differ significantly on number of extracurricular activities. Academic weakness, absenteeism, and tardiness in secondary school appear to be moderately strong predictors of vulnerability to PTSD after traumatization. It also supports the claim that chronic PTSD is, in part, the result of weaknesses present before exposure to trauma.