OBJECTIVE--To assess the effects of low energy ablation of the substrate for atrial flutter. DESIGN--Initial retrospective analysis of patients undergoing low energy ablation of the atrioventricular node for refractory atrial flutter (group 1) was followed by a prospective assessment of low energy ablation in the posterio-inferior right atrium for the same condition (group 2). SETTING--Tertiary referral centre for management of cardiac arrhythmias. PATIENTS--Seven men (aged 50-67 years) with refractory atrial flutter. INTERVENTIONS--Multiple (3-10) low energy DC shocks with a cumulative energy of 100-245 J in the region of the atrioventricular node in group 1 and 12-15 low energy DC shocks (cumulative energy 110-235 J) guided by the anatomical landmarks of the triangle of Koch and applied directly to the atrial wall. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE--Freedom from recurrence of atrial flutter. RESULTS--In group 1 despite initial complete atrioventricular block in three patients, atrioventricular conduction had resumed in all by one month. All four, however, were in sinus rhythm at follow up six to 13 months later. Two of the three patients in group 2 were free of atrial flutter at follow up three to four months after ablation. CONCLUSION--Ablation of the atrial flutter substrate with low energy DC shocks is feasible. Precise electrophysiological mapping is not necessary.