From published articles and adverse reactions reports filed with the FDA (available through the Freedom of Information Act), we analyzed occurrences of tachyarrhythmias and the magnitude of QTc prolongation associated with probucol therapy. Of 16 cases of tachyarrhythmic events reported in association with probucol, 15 (94%) occurred in women (p < 0.01 vs expected value of 58%). Tachyarrhythmias were specifically described as TdP in 11 (63%) cases, all women; additional potential contributory QT-prolonging factors (besides probucol) were not identifiable in 2 of the 11 cases. We also analyzed QTc responses in 359 probucol-treated patients, all having baseline QTc < or = 0.44 sec1/2. At doses of 500 to 1000 mg/day, probucol-associated prolongation of QTc to values > or = 0.45 sec1/2 was observed in 22% of women versus 7% of men (p < 0.001) and to values > or = 0.47 sec1/2 in 8% of women versus 2% of men (p < 0.03). Multivariate analysis identified baseline QTc (p < 0.0001) and female gender (p < 0.03), but neither age nor dose, as significant independent predictors of QTc prolongation to > or = 0.45 sec1/2 with probucol. These findings have relevance to the clinical use of probucol, provide further evidence that women have a relatively greater predisposition to development of acquired long QT syndrome, and carry implications for the design of trials involving QT-prolonging drugs.