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A cohort of 1472 patients who underwent both exercise stress testing and coronary angiography within six weeks was examined. The data indicated that a combination of exercise parameters is both diagnostically and prognostically important. Almost all patients (> 97%) who had positive exercise tests at Stage I or Stage II had significant coronary artery disease. More than half of these (> 60%) had three vessel disease and over 25% had significant narrowing (> 50%) of the left main coronary artery. Patients who achieved Stage IV or greater exercise durations with either negative or indeterminate ST-segment response had less than a 15% prevalence of three vessel disease and less than a 1% prevalence of left main coronary artery disease. A low risk subgroup (75% of all nonoperated patients) was identified with a twelve month survival greater than 99%. A high risk subgroup (11% of all nonoperated patients) was identified with a twelve month survival of less than 85%. The exercise test is a noninvasive, reproducible method to assess the presence and extent of anatomic disease and the prognosis when significant disease has been defined. It should be used in conjunction with other noninvasive tests to determine optimal management in patients evaluated for ischemic heart disease.