We sought to describe characteristics and outcome in adults with isolated ventricular noncompaction (IVNC). Isolated ventricular noncompaction is an unclassified cardiomyopathy due to intrauterine arrest of compaction of the loose interwoven meshwork. Knowledge regarding diagnosis, morbidity and prognosis is limited. Echocardiographic criteria for IVNC include-in the absence of significant heart lesions-segmental thickening of the left ventricular myocardial wall consisting of two layers: a thin, compacted epicardial and an extremely thickened endocardial layer with prominent trabeculations and deep recesses. Thirty-four adults (age >16 years, 25 men) fulfilled the diagnostic criteria and were followed prospectively. At diagnosis, mean age was 42 + 17 years, and 12 patients (35%) were in New York Heart Association class III/IV. Left ventricular end-diastolic diameter was 65 + 12 mm and ejection fraction 33 + 13%. Apex and/or midventricular segments of both the inferior and lateral wall were involved in >80% of patients. Follow-up was 44 + 40 months. Major complications were heart failure in 18 patients (53%), thromboembolic events in 8 patients (24%) and ventricular tachycardias in 14 patients (41%). There were 12 deaths: sudden in six, end-stage heart failure in four and other causes in two patients. Four patients underwent heart transplantation. Automated cardioverter/defibrillators were implanted in four patients. Diagnosis of IVNC by echocardiography using strict criteria is feasible. Its mortality and morbidity are high, including heart failure, thrombo-embolic events and ventricular arrhythmias. Risk stratification includes heart failure therapy, oral anticoagulation, heart transplantation and implantation of an automated defibrillator/cardioverter. As IVNC is a distinct entity, its classification as a specific cardiomyopathy seems to be more appropriate.