In biology, classification systems are used to promote understanding and systematic discussion through the use of logical groups and hierarchies. In clinical medicine, similar principles are used to standardise the nomenclature of disease. For more than three decades, heart muscle diseases have been classified into primary or idiopathic myocardial diseases (cardiomyopathies) and secondary disorders that have similar morphological appearances, but which are caused by an identifiable pathology such as coronary artery disease or myocardial infiltration (specific heart muscle diseases). In this document, The European Society of Cardiology Working Group on Myocardial and Pericardial Diseases presents an update of the existing classification scheme. The aim is to help clinicians look beyond generic diagnostic labels in order to reach more specific diagnoses.