Peak current flow across the heart determines the success of defibrillation and is inversely dependent on impedance between defibrillation electrodes. Factors associated with elevated impedance in patients with implantable defibrillators using nonthoracotomy lead systems have not been well described. Clinical and echocardiographically derived variables were analyzed in 41 patients in whom implantation of a nonthoracotomy lead system was attempted. Lead impedance was measured at end-expiration with 5-J monophasic shocks. Successful defibrillation with or without addition of a subcutaneous patch with ≤20 J with a monophasic waveform was required for nonthoracotomy lead placement. Patients were divided into 2 groups based on impedance: low (≤47 ohms, n = 30) and high (<47 ohms, n = 11). Twenty-four patients had successful defibrillator implantation using a transvenous lead alone, 13 required placement of a subcutaneous patch, and 4 required epicardial patch placement. The mean left ventricular end-diastolic and end-systolic volumes were significantly smaller (p = 0.01 for both) in patients in the low- versus high-impedance groups and were significantly correlated with impedance (r = 0.44, p <0.005 for both). Impedance was not significantly different between patients with successful defibrillation using a transvenous lead alone compared with those who required either subcutaneous or epicardial patches. Thus, impedance using a nonthoracotomy lead system with monophasic shocks is significantly correlated with both end-systolic and end-diastolic volumes, but elevated impedance does not predict increased defibrillation energy requirements.