Twelve consecutive patients who developed torsade de pointes (polymorphous ventricular tachycardia with marked QT prolongation, TdP) over a 4 year period were treated with intravenous injections of magnesium sulfate. In nine of the patients a single bolus of 2 g completely abolished the TdP within 1 to 5 min, and in three others complete abolition of the TdP was achieved after a second bolus was given 5 to 15 min later. Nine of the patients also received continuous infusion of MgSO4 (3 to 20 mg/min) for 7 to 48 hr until the QT interval was below 0.50 sec. In nine of the 12 patients the TdP was induced by antiarrhythmic agents. The QT interval preceding TdP ranged from 0.54 to 0.72 sec. After the MgSO4 bolus, which prevented the recurrence of TdP, no significant changes were observed in the QT interval. There were no side effects of this treatment. In eight of the 12 patients potassium levels before the TdP were below 3.5 meq/liter; magnesium levels were available in eight patients before TdP, and were normal in all. Five additional patients with polymorphous ventricular tachycardia but normal QT intervals (non-TdP patients) received two to three boluses of MgSO4. This treatment was ineffective in all, but they responded to conventional antiarrhythmic therapy. Thus, MgSO4 is a very effective and safe treatment for TdP, and its application is rapid and simple. Its use is therefore recommended as the first line of therapy for TdP.