In the Thrombolysis in Myocardial Infarction (TIMI) Phase II trial, patients received intravenous recombinant tissue-type plasminogen activator (rt-PA) and were randomized to either a conservative or an invasive strategy. Within this study, the effects of immediate versus deferred β-blocker therapy were also assessed in patients eligible for β-blocker therapy, a group of 1,434 patients of which 720 were randomized to the immediate intravenous group and 714 to the deferred group. In the immediate intravenous group, within 2 hours of initiating rt-PA metoprolol was given (5 mg intravenously at 2-minute intervals over 6 minutes, for a total intravenous dose of 15 mg, followed by 50 mg orally every 12 hours in the first 24 hours and 100 mg orally every 12 hours thereafter). The patients assigned to the deferred group received metoprolol, 50 mg orally twice on day 6, followed by 100 mg orally twice a day thereafter. The therapy was tolerated well in both groups and the primary end point, resting global ejection fraction at hospital discharge, averaged 50.5% and was virtually identical in the two groups. The regional ventricular function was also similar in the two groups. Overall, there was no difference in mortality between the immediate intravenous and deferred groups, but in the subgroup defined as low risk there were no deaths at 6 weeks among those receiving immediate β-blocker therapy in contrast to seven deaths among those in whom β-blocker therapy was deferred. These findings for a secondary end point in a subgroup were not considered sufficient to warrant a recommendation regarding clinical use. There was a lower incidence of reinfarction (2.7% versus 5.1%, p = 0.02) and recurrent chest pain (18.8% versus 24.1%, p<0.02) at 6 days in the immediate intravenous group. Thus, in appropriate postinfarction patients, β-blockers are safe when given early after thrombolytic therapy and are associated with decreased myocardial ischemia and reinfarction in the first week but offer no benefit over late administration in improving ventricular function or reducing mortality.