Intraoperative mapping of the specialized atrioventricular conduction system was performed in 47 patients during cardiac surgery. Specialized conduction tissue electrograms were identified in 37, and atrioventricular conduction preserved in 92%. Specialized conduction tissue was identified in 27 patients with atrioventricular canal defect; complete heart block was avoided in 25. Conduction tissue was located in six of 12 patients with complex transpositions; atrioventricular conduction was preserved in all six. Other lesions in which the technique was useful were Ebstein's anomaly and single atrium. Limitations to the technique are 1) deep hypothermia and circulatory arrest; 2) interruption in atrioventricular conduction during mapping; 3) inadequate exposure and access to probable sites of conduction tissue; 4) variation of size and spatial relations of individual malformations; and 5) limited time for identification of unusually located conduction tissue. Indications for use of this technique include patients with both forms of atrioventricular canal, complex transpositions, atrioventricular discordance, single ventricle and single atrium.