Previous reports suggest that the finding of left atrial (LA) dilatation (greater than 45 mm) by echocardiography identifies patients not likely to maintain sinus rhythm after conversion of atrial fibrillation (AF). However, these studies antedate the availability of amiodarone, an antiarrhythmic agent that reportedly is effective in patients with AF in whom other drug therapy has failed. To analyze the relation between LA size and the ability to maintain sinus rhythm with amiodarone therapy, 28 patients, aged 32 to 87 years (mean 61), with an LA dimension greater than 45 mm (range 46 to 78, mean 57) were studied. Thirteen patients (46%) had valvular heart disease, 10 (36%) dilated cardiomyopathy and 5 (18%) miscellaneous disorders. In 25 patients (89%) quinidine therapy had failed. After therapy with amiodarone, sinus rhythm returned in all patients and was maintained. Therapy was judged completely successful in 10 patients (alive and still in sinus rhythm with at least 1 year of follow-up), partially successful in 11 (maintaining sinus rhythm for at least 6 months before a change in status) and failed in 7. Completely successful therapy was accomplished in 9 of 18 patients with an LA dimension between 46 and 60 mm, but in only 1 of 10 patients with an LA dimension greater than 60 mm (p less than 0.05). Thus, patients with LA dimensions between 46 and 60 mm who are significantly compromised by AF can often be maintained in sinus rhythm with amiodarone therapy. However, in patients with larger LA dimensions. AF is likely to return despite aggressive antiarrhythmic therapy with amiodarone, a drug with potentially serious side effects.