Magnesium has previously been used in the treatment of various arrhythmias, but few randomized and prospective studies are available. In a single-blind study, the efficacy and safety of intravenous magnesium sulfate (bolus doses of 5 + 5 mmol followed by infusion of 0.04 mmol/min) versus verapamil (5 + 5 mg followed by 0.1 mg/min) was evaluated in 57 patients with supraventricular arrhythmias (supraventricular tachycardia, atrial fibrillation, and atrial flutter) of recent onset (less than 1 week). Fifteen (58%) of the patients receiving magnesium (n = 26) converted to sinus rhythm within 4 h, and 16 (62%) within 24 h. Verapamil caused a lower ventricular rate, but only six (19%) of the patients (n = 31) converted to sinus rhythm within 4 h (p < 0.01) and 16 (52%) within 24 h (NS). No side effects were observed during magnesium infusion, whereas six patients receiving verapamil had to be withdrawn from further study medication due to symptomatic side effects (hypotension in three, cardiac failure in three). Magnesium appears to be an effective and safe drug for the treatment of supraventricular arrhythmias. The overall efficacy for conversion to sinus rhythm is at least as effective as with verapamil, and its action is more rapid.