The serial Color Word Test, which is a semi-experimental way to differentiate adaptive behavior in stressful situations, was administered at baseline to men participating in the prospective cohort study "Men born in 1914". During follow-up, from 1982-1983 until December 31, 1996, 133 men experienced a myocardial infarction. Four patterns of adaptive behavior in 2 separate dimensions, the Variability and the Regression, can be discerned during testing. These patterns were compared regarding outcome following the myocardial infarction. The Cumulative-dissociative pattern of the Regression dimension was univariately associated with mortality within 28 days (OR 5.75, CI 1.85-17.88, p = .003). Dissociative (OR 3.87, CI 1.21-12.42, p = .023) and Cumulative-dissociative (OR 5.46, CI 1.66-17.96, p = .005) patterns, of the same dimension, were independently associated with mortality within one year. Specific difficulties in adaptation to stressful situations were associated with increased risk of death following a myocardial infarction. In this male sample, these difficulties could be identified with the serial Color Word Test.