BACKGROUNDAlthough randomized trials suggest that transfer for primary percutaneous coronary intervention (X-PCI) in ST-segment-elevation myocardial infarction is superior to onsite fibrinolytic therapy (O-FT), the generalizability of these findings to routine clinical practice is unclear because door-to-balloon (XDB) times are rapid in randomized trials but are frequently prolonged in practice. We hypothesized that delays resulting from transfer would reduce the survival advantage of X-PCI compared with O-FT.METHODS AND RESULTSST-segment-elevation myocardial infarction patients enrolled in the National Registry of Myocardial Infarction (NRMI) within 12 hours of pain onset were identified. Propensity matching of patients treated with X-PCI and O-FT was performed, and the effect of PCI-related delay on in-hospital mortality was assessed. PCI-related delay was calculated by subtracting the XDB from the door-to-needle time in each matched pair. Conditional logistic regression adjusted for patient and hospital variables identified the XDB door-to-needle time at which no mortality advantage for X-PCI over O-FT was present. Eighty-one percent of X-PCI patients were matched (n=9506) to O-FT patients (n=9506). In the matched cohort, X-PCI was performed with delays >90 minutes in 68%. Multivariable analysis found no mortality advantage for X-PCI over O-FT when XDB door-to-needle time exceeded ≈120 minutes.CONCLUSIONPCI-related delays are extensive among patients transferred for X-PCI and are associated with poorer outcomes. No differential excess in mortality was seen with X-PCI compared with O-FT even with long PCI-related delays, but as XDB door-to-needle time times increase, the mortality advantage for X-PCI over O-FT declines.