Syncope in the patient with structural heart disease and a nondiagnostic noninvasive workup is a generally accepted indication for an invasive electrophysiologic study. However, if the electrophysiologic evaluation is not highly sensitive, arrhythmic causes of syncope may not be discovered. In these patients, recurrent syncope and even sudden death may be observed at follow-up. Thus, we evaluated long-term follow-up in 68 consecutive patients who presented with syncope, coronary artery disease, and who had a negative invasive electrophysiologic evaluation. At a mean follow-up of 30 +/- 18 months (range 1 to 65), there have been 2 sudden deaths and 1 episode each of ventricular fibrillation and ventricular tachycardia in patients treated with an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator. All 4 arrhythmias occurred in patients with left ventricular fractions < or = 25%. Seventeen patients had recurrent presyncope or syncope. Bradycardia causing syncope was found in 8 of these patients. A bundle branch block at the initial evaluation predicted for the occurrence of bradycardia at follow-up. We conclude that in patients with coronary artery disease and syncope, noninducibility at electrophysiologic study predicts a lower risk of sudden death and ventricular arrhythmias. However, in patients with a reduced ejection fraction, the risk of sudden death and ventricular arrhythmias remains up to 10%/year and these patients may warrant treatment with implantable cardioverter-defibrillators. Recurrent syncope is common, and frequently a bradyarrhythmia is found to be the cause. Treatment of selected patients (especially those with bundle branch blocks) with permanent pacemakers may be justified.