BACKGROUND: Several statistical models (Trauma and Injury Severity Score [TRISS], New Injury Severity Score [NISS], and the International Classification of Disease, Ninth Revision-based Injury Severity Score [ICISS]) have been developed over the recent decades in an attempt to accurately predict outcomes in trauma patients. The anatomic portion of these models makes them difficult to use when performing a rapid initial trauma assessment. We sought to determine if a Physiologic Trauma Score, using the systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) score in combination with other commonly used indices, could accurately predict mortality in trauma. STUDY DESIGN: Prospective data were analyzed in 9,539 trauma patients evaluated at a Level I Trauma Center over a 30-month period (January 1997 to July 1999). A SIRS score (1 to 4) was calculated on admission (1 point for each: temperature >38°C or <36°C, heart rate >90 beats per minute, respiratory rate >20 breaths per minute, neutrophil count > 12,000 or <4,000. SIRS score, Injury Severity Score (ISS), Revised Trauma Score (RTS), TRISS, Glasgow Coma Score, age, gender, and race were used in logistic regression models to predict trauma patients' risk of death. The area under the receiver-operating characteristic curves of sensitivity versus 1-specificity was used to assess the predictive ability of the models. RESULTS: The study cohort of 9,539 trauma patients (of which 7,602 patients had complete data for trauma score calculations) had a mean ISS of 9 ± 9 (SD) and mean age of 37 ± 17 years. SIRS (SIRS score ≥ 2) was present in 2,165 of 7,602 patients (28.5%). In single-variable models, TRISS and ISS were most predictive of outcomes. A multiple-variable model, Physiologic Trauma Score combining SIRS score with Glasgow Coma Score and age (Hosmer-Lemenshow chi-square = 4.74) was similar to TRISS and superior to ISS in predicting mortality. The addition of ISS to this model did not significantly improve its predictive ability. CONCLUSIONS: A new statistical model (Physiologic Trauma Score), including only physiologic variables (admission SIRS score combined with Glasgow Coma Score and age) and easily calculated at the patient bedside, accurately predicts mortality in trauma patients. The predictive ability of this model is comparable to other complex models that use both anatomic and physiologic data (TRISS, ISS, and ICISS).