Aims: Women with chest pain but without obstructive coronary artery disease (CAD) are considered at low risk for cardiovascular (CV) events, but half continue to experience debilitating chest pain over many years. This study compared CV outcomes in women with persistent chest pain (PChP) vs. those without PChP. Methods and results: We studied 673 Women's Ischaemia Syndrome Evaluation (WISE) participants with chest pain undergoing coronary angiography for suspected myocardial ischaemia and at least 1 year of follow-up. PChP was defined as self-reported continuing chest pain after 1 year. Events occurring after that year were recorded for a median of 5.2 years. We compared CV event rates for women with and without PChP in subgroups with and without obstructive CAD. The median age was 58 years, 20% were racial minorities, 45% had PChP, 39% had obstructive CAD. Among women without CAD, those with PChP had more than twice the rate of composite CV events (P=0.03), that included non-fatal myocardial infarctions (P=0.11), strokes (P=0.03), congestive heart failure (P=0.38), and CV deaths (P=0.73), compared with those without PChP. In women with CAD, there was no difference in composite CV events in those with and without PChP (P=0.72). Conclusion: Among women undergoing coronary angiography for suspected myocardial ischaemia, PChP in women with no obstructive CAD predicted adverse CV outcomes. Such women might benefit from additional evaluation and aggressive risk factor modification therapy. © The European Society of Cardiology 2006. All rights reserved.