Predictive criteria for a first variceal hemorrhage lack substantial accuracy. Cross-sectional studies suggest a close relationship between variceal pressure (VP) and the occurrence of variceal bleeding. In the present prospective cohort study, the significance of VP measurement for prediction of a first variceal bleed was assessed. Eighty-seven patients with cirrhosis and large esophageal varices who had never developed variceal bleeding were followed for 12 months. The endpoint of the study was the presentation or not of a variceal hemorrhage. Thirty-four patients (39%) were in Child's class A, 37 in class B (43%), and 16 in class C (18%). The median interval between endoscopic diagnosis of varices and the beginning of the study was 15 months. Twenty-eight patients (32%) developed a variceal hemorrhage with a bleeding-related mortality of 18% (n=5). The 1-year mortality overall was 16% (n=14). Variables predictive of a first bleed identified by Cox proportional hazards regression model were: the level of VP, the North Italian Endoscopic Club (NIEC) score, and the interval between the diagnosis of varices and the start of the study. By adding VP to NIEC, a significant gain in prognostic accuracy was obtained (P = .003). In conclusion, the present study provides evidence that the level of VP is a major predictive factor for variceal hemorrhage, and that it provides further prognostic information in addition to the NIEC index.