Unstable angina is generally considered to encompass a spectrum of symptomatic manifestations of ischemic heart disease, intermediate between stable angina and acute myocardial infarction. Approximately 75,000 Canadians are hospitalized yearly with unstable angina. The pathophysiology of unstable angina is still imperfectly understood, but is related to the same pathophysiological factors underlying myocardial infarction and sudden cardiac death. In March 1995 a group of Canadian cardiologists met to review the current understanding of unstable angina and to define a Canadian approach to this common problem. Important issues and questions regarding the diagnosis and management of unstable angina were defined. The objective was to outline approaches to the management of unstable angina that would be appropriate in Canada. Topics discussed included definition, incidence, clinical presentations, pathophysiology, initial diagnostic and risk stratification approaches, acute medical management, role of invasive interventions and long term management.