QT dispersion was measured in the 12-lead standard electrocardiogram in 107 patients with idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy (IDC) and 100 age- and sex- matched controls without structural heart disease. All 107 study patients with IDC were prospectively followed in order to determine possible associations between QT dispersion and arrhythmic events, i.e., sustained ventricular tachycardia, ventricular fibrillation, or sudden death. QT dispersion, rate-corrected QT dispersion, and adjusted QTc dispersion, which takes account of the number of leads measured, were significantly greater in patients with IDC than in controls. During 13 +/- 7 months follow-up, arrhythmic events occurred in 12 of 107 study patients with IDC (11%). QT dispersion was increased in patients with versus without arrhythmic events during follow-up (76 +/- 17 vs 60 +/- 26 ms; p=0.03). QTc dispersion and adjusted QTc dispersion were not significantly different between patients with and without arrhythmic events (80 +/- 21 vs 75 +/- 35 ms, and 27 +/- 6 vs 24 +/- 10 ms, respectively). Thus, although QT dispersion was increased in patients with IDC and arrhythmic events during follow-up, its usefulness for arrhythmia risk prediction was limited by the large overlap of QT dispersion between patients with and without arrhythmic events.