We used exercise thallium 201 imaging in 123 patients with diabetes mellitus (77 men and 46 women, aged 56 ±8 years), 75% of whom had angina pectoris (typical or atypical). During exercise testing, 18 patients (15%) had angina pectoris, 28 (23%) had ischemic ST changes, and 69 (56%) had abnormal thallium images. During follow-up (up to 36 months), there were 12 cardiac events; four patients died of cardiac causes and eight had nonfatal acute myocardial infarction. Univariate and multivariate survival analysis identified two independent predictors of cardiac events: the event rate was significantly less in patients with normal images and exercise heart rate over 120 beats per minute than in patients with abnormal images and exercise heart rate of 120 beats per minute or less (0% vs 22%). The patients with abnormal images or exercise heart rate of 120 beats per minute or less had an intermediate event rate (11.5%). Furthermore, two of the 54 patients with normal images and ten of 69 patients with abnormal images had subsequent cardiac events. Thus, exercise thallium imaging is useful in risk stratification in patients with diabetes mellitus. © 1987, American Medical Association. All rights reserved.