One hundred and sixty consecutive patients less than 50 years of age (mean 38 years) referred for long term electrocardiographic recording were evaluated retrospectively. Significant cardiac arrhythmias were detected in 51 of 107 (48%) patients examined because of syncope or dizzy spells or both. Of 39 patients examined for cardiac complaints or presumed complex arrhythmias, 15 (38%) had significant arrhythmias. Of 14 patients examined because of otherwise unexplained strokes, nine had slow sinus rates. Of these, one patient had recently undertaken moderately intensive athletic activity and four had been undertaking vigorous athletic activities for several years. All of the 12 active athletes who were followed up on account of syncope or dizzy spells were free of symptoms after reducing their athletic activities. The cardiac rhythm returned to normal in four out of five who underwent repeat long term electrocardiographic recording. It is suggested that vigorous athletic activity in subjects of 30-50 years of age may transform the adaptative bradycardia of the athlete into a condition similar to the embolising sick sinus syndrome.