Subendocardial, subepicardial and intramyocardial activation in the ischemic zone was investigated in 20 anesthetized open chest dogs 0-30 minutes after the ligation of the left anterior descending coronary artery. Single and composite electrograms and lead 2 of the ECG were recorded. Coronary artery ligation produced marked delay, fragmentation, and reduction in amplitude in the electrical activity of the subepicardial and intramyocardial muscle layers. The activation remained synchronous in the subendocardial muscle layers. Extension of electrical activity in the ischemic subepicardium and intramyocardium beyond the T wave of the surface ECG preceded the onset of immediate ventricular arrhythmias (IVA) during the initial ten minute period after coronary artery ligation. However, a second surge of delayed ventricular arrhythmias (DVA), 10-30 minutes after ligation, was not associated with the appearance of diastolic electrical activity in any of the subepicardial or myocardial layers. It appears that subepicardial as well as intramyocardial reentry could play an important role in the genesis of the immediate ventricular arrhythmias (1-10 minutes after ligation). In contrast, no obvious reentrant activity as evidenced by delayed and fragmented electrical activity could be observed in the electrogram from any of the myocardial layers with the appearance of delayed ventricular ectopic activity 10-30 minutes after ligation.