Classifications of heart muscle diseases have proved to be exceedingly complex and in many respects contradictory. Indeed, the precise language used to describe these diseases is profoundly important. A new contemporary and rigorous classification of cardiomyopathies (with definitions) is proposed here. This reference document affords an important framework and measure of clarity to this heterogeneous group of diseases. Of particular note, the present classification scheme recognizes the rapid evolution of molecular genetics in cardiology, as well as the introduction of several recently described diseases, and is unique in that it incorporates ion channelopathies as a primary cardiomyopathy.