To describe the epicardial ventricular activation sequence in the intact human heart, we obtained epicardial maps from 11 patients with normal QRS undergoing open heart surgery. Epicardial breakthrough (EBT), defined as the emergence of a radially propagating epicardial wavefront, occurred in three to five sites in each patient, and was earliest in the anterior right ventricle, 7-25 msec (mean 17 msec) after the onset of the QRS in all patients. Subsequent EBT occurred in the inferior right ventricle (10 sites in 10 patients), in the anterolateral left ventricle (13 sites in 10 patients), and the inferior left ventricle (eight sites in seven patients). Latest epicardial activation (LEA), defined as the latest site of recordable epicardial activity, occurred in the basal segments in all patients, anteriorly in the right ventricle in five patients, and inferiorly in six patients, four on the right and two on the left. LEA occurred 63-96 msec (mean 77 msec) after the onset of the QRS, and was recorded within 20 msec of the end of the QRS in all patients. Sequence of epicardial activation reflected a fusion process among the wavefronts. This descriptive and quantitative data should provide a suitable basis for comparison of abnormal ventricular activation sequences in patients undergoing surgery for preexcitation or ventricular tachycardia.