Myocardial infarction (MI) is defined by the presence of myocardial necrosis in combination with clinical evidence of myocardial ischemia. Cardiac troponins are regulatory proteins within the myocardium that are released into the circulation when damage to the myocyte has occurred. Therefore, serum troponin is an exquisitely sensitive marker of myocardial injury and is necessary for establishing the diagnosis of MI. High-sensitivity troponin assays are improving the diagnostic accuracy and rapid detection of myocardial infarction. The early identification of MI is vital for the institution of anti-thrombotic therapy to limit myocardial damage and preserve cardiac function. Troponin has both diagnostic and prognostic significance in the setting of acute coronary syndrome (ACS). Increased troponin levels in the absence of ACS should prompt an evaluation for an alternative, non-thrombotic mechanism of troponin elevation and direct management at the underlying cause. This review describes the role of troponin in the evaluation of patients with suspected myocardial infarction. © 2010 Daubert and Jeremias, publisher and licensee Dove Medical Press Ltd.