Drug-eluting stents (DES) have reduced the rate of in-stent restenosis compared with bare-metal stents, but are associated with an increased risk of late stent thrombosis. The proximal left anterior descending artery (LAD) is a large vessel and is considered to be at increased risk of both restenosis and stent thrombosis. The risk-benefit ratio of each type of stent therefore is of great clinical interest in this location. The aim was to compare 1-year outcomes of DESs and bare-metal stents in nonostial proximal LADs. Historic cohorts of patients who underwent percutaneous coronary intervention of nonostial proximal LAD lesions were compared. A total of 137 patients in the bare-metal stent group and 350 patients in the DES group were compared. The primary and secondary end points were target-lesion revascularization (TLR) rate and major adverse cardiac event rate, including death, myocardial infarction and TLR at 1-year follow-up. Patients in both groups had similar baseline characteristics. Intravascular ultrasound guidance was used in most percutaneous coronary intervention (bare-metal stents vs DESs 72.4% vs 74.5%; p = 0.6). Stent diameter was large in both groups (3.2 ± 0.5 vs 3.2 ± 0.3 mm; p = 0.6). Patients in the DES group had longer stents implanted (15 ± 7 vs 17 ± 7 mm; p <0.01). Major adverse cardiac event and TLR rates were not different (bare-metal stents vs DESs 16.4% vs 14.7%; p = 0.7 and 4.5% vs 5.2%; p = 0.8). In multivariate analysis, the TLR rate was independent of type of stent used. In conclusion, DESs carry no clinical benefit over bare-metal stents for nonostial proximal LAD lesions. Bare-metal stents therefore could be a cost-effective alternative in this location.