Amiodarone, originally developed over 20 years ago, is a potent antiarrhythmic drug with the actions of all antiarrhythmic drug classes. It has been successfully used in the treatment of symptomatic and life-threatening ventricular arrhythmias and symptomatic supraventricular arrhythmias. In patients with left ventricular dysfunction amiodarone does not usually produce any clinically significant cardiodepression and the drug has relatively high antiarrhythmic efficacy. Preliminary studies indicate that amiodarone may have a beneficial effect on mortality and survival in certain groups of patients with ventricular arrhythmias, an action probably related to both its antiarrhythmic and antifibrillatory effects. The adverse effect profile of amiodarone is diverse, involving the cardiac, thyroid, pulmonary, hepatic, gastrointestinal, ocular, neurological and dermatological systems. Interstitial pneumonitis and hepatitis are potentially fatal, but the vast majority of adverse events are less serious, and some may be dose dependent. Pretreatment monitoring, regular assessments and the use of minimum effective doses are, therefore, necessary. Thus, with appropriate monitoring to control its well recognised adverse effects amiodarone has an important place as an effective 'broad spectrum' antiarrhythmic drug which has, so far, been used when other treatments have proved ineffective. More recent preliminary data also suggest that it may also have a beneficial effect in the prevention of sudden death in some patients.