We investigated the effectiveness of noninvasive transcutaneous pacing in 35 patients. Pacing was achieved in 33 of 35 patients (94%). In 24 patients the indications were: acute sinoatrial block, atrioventricular block, or asystole with unconsciousness due to acute myocardial infarction in eight; sick sinus node syndrome in 12; and other indications in four patients. These patients were paced for 2 minutes to 14 hours; the median length of pacing was 15 minutes. The pacing thresholds varied from 30 to 110 mA; pacing was achieved in 22 patients without serious side effects. Nine patients needed sedation and six were unconscious; 12 later had a temporary or permanent transvenous pacemaker implanted. In 11 patients noninvasive transcutaneous pacing was performed prior to implantation of a permanent pacing catheter: in eight pacing was done just prior to catheter insertion, and in three the threshold was determined before a weekend on which the patient had to wait for implantation. Pacing thresholds were from 45 to 90 mA; the median was 55 mA. Seven of these eight patients felt chest pain. No serious side effects were seen. We conclude that transcutaneous pacing is effective and safe and can be used instead of inserting a transvenous catheter if this is impossible or until one can be inserted.