The success of catheter ablation has significantly improved the treatment of patients with cardiac arrhythmias and has established electrophysiology as an increasingly interventional subspecialty. Some members of the electrophysiology community have expressed concern that this success has been purchased at the cost of undermining what had been our primary concern: understanding the anatomic and physiologic basis of arrhythmia syndromes. In many laboratories, endpoints such as case load and primary success have eclipsed physiologic investigation. Despite these trends, however, catheter ablation is not inherently at odds with investigation and education. On the contrary, because the lesions delivered with current techniques are much more discrete than the effects of antiarrhythmic agents or surgical ablation, catheter ablation can be used as a research tool directed toward a more precise understanding of arrhythmia substrates. Conscious attempts at "learning while burning" have already provided important and unique information about arrhythmia pathogenesis.