This article continue, a series of reports on recent research developments in the field of heart failure. Key presentations made at the American College of Cardiology meeting, held in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA in March 2004 are reported. These new data have been added to existing data in cumulative meta-analyses. The WATCH study randomised 1587 patients with heart failure and left ventricular systolic dysfunction to warfarin, aspirin or clopidogrel. The study showed no difference between the effects of these agents on mortality or myocardial infarction, but hospitalisations for heart failure were higher on aspirin (22.2%) compared to warfarin (16.1%). The SCD-HeFT study showed that ICD therapy reduced all-cause mortality at 5 years by 23% in patients with predominantly NYHA class II heart failure and left ventricular systolic dysfunction, but amiodarone was ineffective. The DINAMIT study showed that ICD therapy was not beneficial in patients with left ventricular dysfunction after a recent MI, even in those with risk factors for arrhythmic death. In CASINO, levosimendan improved survival compared with dobutamine or placebo in patients with decompensated heart failure. INSPIRE showed that SPECT imaging can be used to assess risk early after acute MI safely and accurately. Rimonabant was shown to be safe and effective in treating the combined cardiovascular risk factors of smoking and obesity. An overview of new developments in cardiac resynchronisation therapy (CRT) in heart failure is also reported. (C) 2004 European Society of Cardiology. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.