Evidence for the utilisation of substrates by the ischaemic myocardium and its dependence for viability on a critical supply of glucose was established many years ago. It was recognised that an excess of free fatty acids (FFA) could increase the severity of ischaemic damage and possibly be arrhythmogenic. But metabolic intervention to improve survival during acute myocardial infarction was not regarded as a priority, perhaps because of uncertainty about its value and the advent of trials of beta-blocker and antiarrhythmic drugs. There has never been an adequate trial of the benefit to the ischaemic or infarcting myocardium of increasing local glucose concentrations or reducing the availability of FFA. We have taken into account new knowledge of the effects of fatty acids on cation channels and brought up to date the arguments for metabolic intervention with glucose-insulin solutions or antilipolytic drugs sustained ischaemia.