Introduction of the automatic implantable cardioverter defibrillator (AICD) has dramatically affected the surgical treatment of malignant ventricular tachyarrhythmias. The authors continue to perform electrophysiologically directed subendocardial resection (SER) of left ventricular (LV) scars in selected patients, and we revascularize (CABG) those patients undergoing AICD implantation who have significant myocardial ischemia. In an attempt to define the optimal role of each procedure, this report analyzes our 8-year experience with 348 consecutive patients treated surgically for these arrhythmias (SER since 1983 and AICD since 1986). All patients undergoing SER had organized ventricular tachycardia (VT) as a result of myocardial infarction, and most had LV aneurysms; of those undergoing AICD or AICD/CABG, 60% had VT, 15% had ventricular fibrillation, and 25% had both or were noninducible. The thirty-day mortality rate was 1.5% (3/197) for AICD, 5.4% (5/93) for AICD/CABG, and 8.6% (5/58) for SER; these mortality figures are not significantly different. Late deaths in all groups were predominantly due to congestive heart failure, and actuarial survival as well as freedom from sudden death was similar between the groups at 4 years. Recurrent VT occurred in 167 of 282 (59%) of long-term survivors of AICD or AICD/CABG during follow-up and in nine of 53 (17%) of those with SER. Forty- eight per cent of survivors of AICD or AICD/CABG required antiarrhythmic medications, whereas only 11% of those with SER required antiarrhythmics. Long-term survival in each group is much higher than that reported for comparable patients with severe LV dysfunction treated medically. In those patients with organized VT and LV aneurysm who are judged able to survive the procedure, SER offers a high likelihood of cure rather than simple prevention of sudden death.