Cardiac troponin T (cTnT) in serum is a highly sensitive and specific marker for myocardial damage. Quantitative immunoassays take 9 min. A rapid test (TropT, CardiacT) using plasma detects cTnT concentrations above 0.10 microg/l within 15 min. Both assays are specific for the cardiac isoform. In a study using the maximal values from serial sampling in 502 infarction-suspected patients, we found a diagnostic sensitivity for non-Q- and Q-wave infarctions of 100%, with a specificity of 99%. cTnT has been shown to be a powerful prognostic marker for risk stratification in acute coronary syndromes. In 30-40% of patients with unstable angina, cTnT > or = 0.10 microg/l detects minor myocardial damage (MMD) with poor prognosis. False positives may be found in certain skeletal muscle diseases, such as polymyositis and Duchenne's muscular dystrophy. Constantly increased values in renal failure may be due to uremic cardiomyositis. Even in uremia, a rapid increase of cTnT will indicate acute myocardial damage. We propose a diagnostic strategy based on timed, parallel determinations of myoglobin + cTnT.