A total of 195 consecutive patients with acute myocardial infarction were examined and risk classified (low or middle/high risk) on the fifth day by two physicians. These two physicians employed two different sets of criteria: conventional clinical examination compared with 2-D echocardiographic assessment of the wall motion of the left ventricle (wall motion index, WMI). Both physicians concluded their examination by determination of a theoretical time for discharge. By design this was on the 5th-7th days for low risk patients by echocardiography, while low risk patients by clinical criteria are normally discharged on the 7th to 8th days. The most sensitive method of identifying the low risk patients was achieved by combining the clinical examination with echocardiographic WMI determination. In this manner, a total of 104 (53%) low risk patients could be identified. A potential saving of 18% of the total duration of hospitalization could be calculated from the two theoretical times of discharge for the total population. All of the patients in this study could be assessed by echocardiography which provided valuable information and thus may be implemented in the routine treatment of acute myocardial infarction.