Cardiac contusion following blunt chest trauma remains a diagnostic problem because of a lack of sensitive diagnostic tests. This study evaluated thallous chloride Tl 201 single-photon-emission computed tomography in a series of 48 patients following blunt chest trauma. Of the 48 patients, 23 had normal scans. None of these patients proved to have serious arrhythmias during three days of continuous monitoring. Of 25 patients with abnormal or ambiguous studies, five (20%) developed serious arrhythmias requiring therapy. Single-photon-emission computed tomography scanning thus was sensitive in indicating that group of patients at risk of serious arrhythmias, and may therefore prove to be a useful screening test to determine the need for hospitalization and arrhythmia monitoring following blunt chest trauma.