This article contains a series of reports on recent research developments in the field of heart failure. Reports of key presentations made at the European Society of Cardiology meeting, held in Vienna, Austria, between 30 August and 3 September 2003 are reported. In the CHARM study, candesartan reduced cardiovascular deaths and hospital admissions for heart failure, both in patients who were already taking an ACE-inhibitor and in those who were ACE intolerant. However, results in patients with preserved left ventricular function were less conclusive. The BASEL study supports the use of B-type natriuretic peptide testing to confirm the diagnosis of heart failure in patients presenting with acute dyspnoea. In EUROPA, the largest ever study of secondary prevention of coronary artery disease, long-term treatment with perindopril reduced the incidence of cardiovascular death, myocardial infarction (MI) and cardiac arrest. The ESTEEM study showed that the oral thrombin inhibitor ximelagatran plus aspirin was more effective than aspirin alone in the prophylaxis of major cardiovascular events following MI. (C) 2003 European Society of Cardiology. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.