Sprague-Dawley rats were pretreated for 21 days with N-acetyl-L-cysteine (NAC) or vitamin E to investigate their influence on arrhythmias induced by a bolus injection or by cumulative doses of epinephrine. Electrocardiographic analysis revealed that both NAC and vitamin E decreased the duration and increased the time of onset of epinephrine-induced arrhythmias in a dose-dependent manner. The antiarrhythmic effects of NAC were comparable with those seen in the vitamin E-pre-treated animals. The lipid peroxidation due to cumulative doses of epinephrine was reduced in both pretreated groups; however, NAC, unlike vitamin E, failed to decrease the basal level of malondialdehyde. Although the plasma concentrations of both norepinephrine and epinephrine were markedly increased, the level of aminochromes on epinephrine administration was decreased by both NAC and vitamin E pretreatments. The results support the view that antioxidants may prevent the cate-cholamine-induced heart rhythm disorders by reducing the formation of oxidized catecholamines.