BACKGROUND: Anxiety after acute myocardial infarction influences both short- and long-term recovery. Therefore, determining specific subgroups of patients who have relatively higher anxiety levels is important. Published findings about gender differences in anxiety after acute myocardial infarction are conflicting. OBJECTIVES: To determine whether gender differences in anxiety after acute myocardial infarction exist and whether any of the sociodemographic and clinical variables that often differ between men and women with acute myocardial infarction interact with gender to influence anxiety. METHODS: A total of 424 patients with confirmed acute myocardial infarction were enrolled in this multicenter prospective study. Patients' anxiety level was measured within 72 hours of their arrival at the hospital by using the State Anxiety Inventory and the Brief Symptom Inventory. RESULTS: Women had significantly higher anxiety than did men according to both the State Anxiety Inventory (42 +/- 12.9 vs 37.7 +/- 12.5; P = .001) and the Brief Symptom Inventory (0.83 +/- 0.97 vs 0.63 +/- 0.71; P = .02). Of the sociodemographic and clinical variables examined, only marital status and income significantly interacted with gender to influence anxiety. Married women had higher anxiety than did single and widowed women, and married men had lower anxiety than did single men. Women with lower income had higher anxiety than did women with higher income; income was not related to anxiety in men. CONCLUSION: Women report significantly greater anxiety early after acute myocardial infarction than men do. Women's greater anxiety may be partially explained by marital status and lower income at the time of the infarction.