BACKGROUND: Stress surrounding hospital discharge after acute myocardial infarction increases the likelihood that the condition will recur. Although increased age, a more severe illness and a higher incidence of persistent cardiac symptoms suggest that women would experience more stress at discharge, data comparing stress experienced by women and men have not been reported. PURPOSE: To compare the level of stress experienced by women and men at hospital discharge after acute myocardial infarction. SAMPLE: Data from 54 women and 182 men from a government hospital, two private community hospitals and a teaching/community hospital. RESULTS: Stress scores of women were not found to be different from those of men, nor were five of the six most stressful concerns identified in the study. No difference was found in severity of illness or age. CONCLUSIONS: Women and men experience similar levels of stress at hospital discharge after acute myocardial infarction. Furthermore, both genders can benefit equally from interventions designed to reduce stress.