Endocardial mapping has suggested that common atrial flutter (AF) is based on right atrial reentry surrounding the inferior vena cava (IVC). The isthmus between the IVC and the tricuspid valve (TV) appears essential to close the circuit. To test this hypothesis, radiofrequency was applied to the IVC-TV isthmus, with catheter electrodes, in 9 patients with AF. Mapping confirmed a right atrial circuit surrounding the IVC in all. In 4 patients another type of AF was induced that followed the circuit in the opposite direction. Radiofrequency interrupted AF in all patients. Multiple endocardial recordings showed that interruption was due to activation block at the point of application. Radiofrequency produced very brief or sustained, atrial fibrillation in 2 patients, which resulted in sinus rhythm. AF recurred in 4 patients with the same activation pattern and was interrupted again with radiofrequency in the IVC-TV isthmus in 3. AF was noninducible in 7 patients after 1 to 4 sessions. AF-free periods of 2 to 18 months without drugs were observed after radiofrequency, but 2 patients had paroxysmal atrial fibrillation. These results confirm that the IVC-TV isthmus is an essential part of the AF circuit. Ablation of this area may be of therapeutic value, but technical improvements are needed. Long-term efficacy of the procedure is uncertain.