The rate of QT adaptation to abrupt changes in pacing rate was studied in seven patients with newly diagnosed complete heart block with a ventricular escape rate of less than 40 beats.min-1. Their median age was 70 (range 36-84) years, and none was taking any cardioactive medication known to affect the QT interval. From a baseline pacing rate of 50 or 110 beats.min-1 the ventricular rate was increased or decreased to a new level. The time taken for the ventricular paced QT interval to complete 90% of the change secondary to the change in rate was found to be 136(16) s (mean(SEM] when the rate was increasing and 189(25) s when the rate was decreasing (p less than 0.01). This time interval was independent of the magnitude of the rate change and the baseline heart rate from which the change occurred. Furthermore, the time course of QT adaptation was found to be exponential and was characterised by a time constant of 49.1(2.2) s when the rate was increasing and 60.4(2.0) s when the rate was decreasing (p less than 0.01). It is concluded that QT measurements in response to a change in pacing rate should take into account the time dependent nature of QT changes.