Constant rapid pacing may suppress arrhythmias, but it is usually poorly tolerated in the long term. We report a pilot study of a new pacing algorithm for overdrive suppression of atrial premature complexes (APCs) and atrial fibrillation (AF), which prevents postextrasystolic pauses and varies the pacing rate in response to the frequency of APCs. The algorithm was tested in a multiple crossover study for 24 hours in dual chamber pacemakers implanted in 70 patients. Comparison was made on ambulatory recordings between the number of atrial arrhythmias commencing with the algorithm active and inactive. In all cases, the algorithm functioned as designed. No patient was aware of its operation, and no malignant arrhythmias were induced. The 36 recordings that showed atrial arrhythmia were included for analysis. The effects of the algorithm were: APCs (estimated from pacemaker statistics) reduced in 18 patients, increased in 8 (P = 0.02); atrial salvos reduced in 12, increased in 4 (P = 0.041); and AF reduced in 11, increased in 8 (P = NS). In all patients with frequent AF (> 5 episodes in total), fewer episodes occurred when the algorithm was active. We conclude that the algorithm is safe and well tolerated, reduces atrial ectopic activity, and may reduce the frequency of sustained atrial fibrillation.