The use of microwave energy for ablation of the atrioventricular (AV) junction was examined in open-chest dogs. Using a specially designed microwave catheter and a 2450 MHz generator, microwave energy was delivered to the AV junction according to one of two protocols. In protocol 1, increasing amounts of energy were delivered until irreversible AV block occurred. In protocol 2, only two applications of energy were used, one at low energy and the other at an energy found to be high enough to cause irreversible AV block. Each dog received between one and six applications of microwave energy. The amount of energy delivered per application ranged from 25.6 to 311.4 J. No AV block was seen at 59.4 +/- 28.3 J. Reversible AV block was seen with an energy of 120.6 +/- 58 J. Irreversible AV block was seen at 188.1 +/- 75.9 J. Irreversible AV block could be achieved in each animal. There was no difference in the energy required to cause irreversible AV block between the two protocols. The tissue temperature measured near the tip of the microwave catheter was correlated with both the amount of energy delivered and the extent of AV block caused. Histologic examination demonstrated coagulation necrosis of the conduction system. Microwave energy is a feasible alternative energy source for myocardial ablation. Since tissue damage is due exclusively to heating and the resulting rise in temperature can be measured, microwave energy may have advantages over currently existing energy sources in terms of both titrating delivered energy and monitoring the extent of tissue destruction.