A new fast, high-resolution measurement system has been developed to analyze the propagation of cardiac excitation on a microscopic scale. The instrument uses a microsensor array to detect microscopic excitation patterns at the cardiac surface. Ninety-six epicardial signals are recorded simultaneously with 14-bit resolution at 200-kHz samples per second per channel. The system operates like a digital oscilloscope. Preprocessing routines (offset, gain, and triggering) are executed within a sampling interval of 5 microseconds by 48 digital signal processors. Analog-to-digital (A/D) converters are provided with 12 Mb of buffer memory, allowing continuous recording of up to 64-k samples x 96 channels. The recorded dataset is transferred rapidly (8 Mb/sec) to the memory of the integrated computer system via VXIbus. Analysis and visualization of the propagating excitation are computed by custom-designed software. The performance of the system allows recording as well as visualization of the cardiac excitation spread in a beat-to-beat manner.