The purpose of this study was to determine at necropsy the morphologic consequences of percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty performed during acute myocardial infarction. The heart was examined in four patients who died between 6 hours and 4 days after coronary angioplasty. The patients had angioplasty of the left main coronary artery (one patient), left anterior descending coronary artery (two patients) and left circumflex coronary artery (one patient). Necropsy revealed residual stenosis, intimai hemorrhage and plaque disruption in all four patients. Also noted were distal embolization of plaque elements (two patients) and thrombotic occlusion of the coronary artery (one patient). In conclusion, the morphologic changes after angioplasty are varied. These changes illustrate the mechanisms of angioplasty and some of the complications that can be expected in a small number of cases. The morphologic changes associated with coronary angioplasty are similar in patients undergoing elective or emergency angioplasty although medial dissection was not observed in these patients with an evolving myocardial infarction. © 1986, American College of Cardiology Foundation. All rights reserved.