Résumé : In view of the increasing interest in quantifying and modifying the size of myocardial infarction (MI), it is important to look for clinically practical subsets of electrocardiographic leads that allow the earliest and most accurate diagnosis of the presence and electrocardiographic type of MI. A practical approach is described, taking advantage of the increased information content of body surface potential maps over standard electrocardiographic techniques for facilitating clinical use of body surface potential maps for such a purpose. Multivariate analysis was performed on 120-lead electrocardiographic data, simultaneously recorded in 236 normal subjects, 114 patients with anterior MI and 144 patients with inferior MI, using as features instantaneous voltages on time-normalized QRS and ST-T waveforms. Leads and features for optimal separation of normal subjects from, respectively, anterior MI and inferior MI patients were selected. Features measured on leads originating from the upper left precordial area, lower midthoracic region and the back correctly identified 97% of anterior MI patients, with a specificity of 95%; in patients with inferior MI, features obtained from leads located in the lower left back, left leg, right subclavicular area, upper dorsal region and lower right chest correctly classified 94% of the group, with specificity kept at 95%. Most features were measured in early and mid-QRS, although very potent discriminators were found in the late portion of the T wave. Repeatability of the results was investigated by separating the study population in training and testing sets; no deterioration was observed when the discriminant functions computed on the training sets were run on the testing sets. In comparison, at the same level of specificity and with the same number of features (n = 6), the standard 12-lead electrocardiogram correctly diagnosed 89% of anterior MI and 85% of inferior MI patients. Thus, diagnosis of anterior and inferior MI can be substantially improved by appropriate selection of electrocardiographic leads and features. © 1986.