The interval from the R wave to the maximum amplitude of the T wave (RTm) contains the heart rate dependency of ventricular repolarization. A computer algorithm was developed to quantify the RTm and preceding RR intervals for each of more than 50,000 beats on 24-hour ambulatory electrocardiographic (Holter) recordings to evaluate the dynamic relation between repolarization duration and cycle length. The relation of RTm to the preceding RR interval (RTm/RR slope) was determined by the best-fit linear regression equation between these two parameters. Eleven normal subjects and 16 patients with long QT syndrome (LQTS) were investigated. Six of the normal subjects had Holter recordings obtained before and after beta-blocker therapy. beta-Blockers were associated with a significant (p = 0.005) reduction in the RTm/RR slope from 0.13 +/- 0.02 to 0.10 +/- 0.02. The mean value of the RTm/RR slope was significantly (p = 0.003) larger in the LQTS patients (0.21 +/- 0.08) than in normal subjects (0.14 +/- 0.03). These findings indicate that 1) quantification of the dynamic relation between ventricular repolarization and RR cycle length can be obtained on a large number of Holter-recorded heart beats; 2) beta-blockers reduce the RTm/RR slope in normal patients; and 3) LQTS patients have an exaggerated delay in repolarization at long RR cycle lengths.