Hawthorn medicinal extract has long been a favored herbal remedy in Europe. The active components of this slow-acting cardiotonic agent are thought to be flavonoids and oligomeric procyanidins. The most studied hawthorn extracts are WS 1442 and LI 132. Reviews of placebo- controlled trials have reported both subjective and objective improvement in patients with mild forms of heart failure (New York Heart Association classes I through III). Other studies of hawthorn in patients with heart failure have revealed improvement in clinical symptoms, pressure-heart rate product, left ventricular ejection fraction, and patients' subjective sense of well-being. However, there is no evidence of a notable reduction in mortality or sudden death. Hawthorn is well tolerated; the most common adverse effects are vertigo and dizziness. Theoretic interactions exist with antiarrhythmics, antihypertensives, digoxin, and antihyperlipidemic agents. Proven conventional therapies for heart failure are still recommended until the safety and effectiveness of hawthorn has been proven in long-term studies.