Digoxin inhibits the membrane-bound ATPase enzyme, resulting in a rise in intracellular sodium and activated outward potassium current, predisposing to arrhythmias. In this study, the effect of ketanserin, thought to block outward potassium currents, was investigated on digoxin-induced arrhythmias. Twenty-four guinea-pigs were studied in four groups (control, ketanserin 0.5 mg/kg, ketanserin 1 mg:kg, ketanserin 2 mg/kg). Under pentobarbital anaesthesia (40 mg/kg), 15 min after injection of saline or ketanserin, digoxin (0.6 mg/kg) was administered through the jugular vein. Carotid artery blood pressure and electrocardiogram (ECG) were recorded. The rime for the onset of the first arrhythmia and incidence of ventricular tachycardia (VT), ventricular fibrillation (VF); and premature ventricular contraction (PVC) were determined. Arrhythmias were scored according to the MacLeod scale. Ketanserin produced minor haemodynamic effects and lacked, by itself, arrhythmogenic effects at the doses studied. However, it increased the time for the onset of the first digoxin-induced arrhythmia and decreased the incidence of VT, VF and PVC. We conclude that ketanserin inhibits digoxin-induced arrhythmias in guinea-pigs. (C) 1999 Editions scientifiques et medicales Elsevier SAS.