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To assess the relationship between reported chest pain symptoms and a diagnosis of acute coronary syndrome (ACS) and serious cardiopulmonary diagnoses (SCPD) in black males, white males, black females and white females.This was a secondary analysis of a prospective cohort study of 4162 ED patients with chest pain enrolled between 1999 and 2008. We used logistic regression, adjusting for age and cardiovascular comorbidities to test the association between 24 chest pain symptoms and 30-day ACS for the primary outcome and SCPD as the secondary outcome.In black males, diaphoresis was associated with ACS (OR 1.47; 95% CI 1.02 to 2.13), while in white males, left arm radiation, pressure/tightness and substernal pain were associated with ACS (OR 1.73, 95% CI 1.16 to 2.59; OR 1.65, 95% CI 1.16 to 2.59; OR 1.51, 95% CI 1.07 to 2.11, respectively). In black females, diaphoresis, palpitations and left arm radiation were associated with ACS (OR 1.66, 95% CI 1.17 to 2.35; 1.66, 95% CI 1.13 to 2.45; 1.44, 95% CI 1.02 to 2.03, respectively) while pleuritic pain, and left anterior chest pain lowered ACS risk (OR 0.69, 95% CI 0.5 to 0.96; 0.54, 95% CI 0.35 to 0.84). No symptoms predicted ACS or SCPD in white females. Fewer but similar symptoms predicted SCPD in white males and black females. No symptoms predicted SCPD in black males.Chest pain symptoms are important predictors of ACS and SCPD in certain combinations of race and gender but less so in others. These differences might explain difficulties using symptoms to identify patients at higher or lower risk of ACS and SCPD in practice.