Drugs that prolong the QT interval by blocking human ether-a-go-go (HERG) channels may enhance the risk of ventricular arrhythmia. The spasmolytic drug propiverine is widely used for the therapy of overactive bladder (OAB). Here, we have investigated the effects of propiverine on cardiac ion channels and action potentials as well as on contractile properties of cardiac tissue, in order to estimate its cardiac safety profile, because other drugs used in this indication had to be withdrawn due to safety reasons. Whole-cell patch clamp technique was used to record the following cardiac ion currents: rapidly and slowly activating delayed rectifier K+ current (I(Kr), I(Ks)), ultra rapidly activating delayed rectifier K+ current (I(Kur)), inwardly rectifying K+ current I(K1), transient outward K+ current (I(to)), and L-type Ca2+ current (I(Ca,L)). Action potentials in cardiac tissue biopsies were recorded with conventional microelectrodes. The torsade de pointes screening assay (TDPScreen) was used for drug scoring. Propiverine blocked in a concentration-dependent manner HERG channels expressed in HEK293 cells, as well as native I(Kr) current in ventricular myocytes of guinea pig (IC50 values: 10 microM and 1.8 microM respectively). At high concentrations (100 microM), propiverine suppressed I(Ks). I(K1) and the transient outward current I(to) and I(Kur) were not affected. In guinea-pig ventricular and human atrial myocytes, propiverine also blocked I(Ca,L) (IC50 values: 34.7 microM and 41.7 microM, respectively) and reduced force of contraction. Despite block of I(Kr), action potential duration was not prolonged in guinea-pig and human ventricular tissue, but decreased progressively until excitation failed altogether. Similar effects were observed in dog Purkinje fibers. Propiverine obtained a low score in the TDPScreen. In conclusion, in vitro and in vivo studies of propiverine do not provide evidence for an enhanced cardiovascular safety risk. We propose that lack of torsadogenic risk of propiverine is related to enhancement of repolarization reserve by block of I(Ca,L).