This article provides a detailed overview of the rationale for key aspects of the protocol of the Digitalis Investigation Group (DIG) trial. It also highlights unusual aspects of the study implementation and the baseline characteristics. The DIG trial is a large, simple, international placebo-controlled trial whose primary objective is to determine the effect of digoxin on all cause mortality in patients with clinical heart failure who are in sinus rhythm and whose ejection fraction is < or = 0.45. An ancillary study examines the effect in those with an ejection fraction > 0.45. Key aspects of the trial include the simplicity of the design, broad eligibility criteria, essential data collection, and inclusion of various types of centers. A total of 302 centers in the United States and Canada enrolled 7788 patients between February 1991 and September 1993. Follow-up continued until December 1995 with the results available in Spring 1996.