Prolonged electrocardiographic QRS duration is frequently observed in congestive heart failure (CHF) patients. We hypothesized that CHF risk increases with longer QRS interval in individuals free of CHF. We evaluated 1759 Framingham Study participants (mean age, 69 years; 63% women) without prior myocardial infarction or CHF who attended a routine examination. QRS duration was analyzed as a continuous (log-transformed) and a categorical variable [referent, <100 ms; incomplete bundle branch block (BBB), 100 to 119 ms; complete BBB, > or =120 ms]. During follow-up (mean, 12.7 years), 324 participants (205 women) developed CHF. CHF incidence increased across the 3 baseline QRS duration categories in both sexes. Each SD increment in log-QRS duration was associated with a multivariable-adjusted 23% increase in CHF risk [95% confidence interval [CI] 8% to 38%; P<0.001]. In time- dependent models with QRS category and risk factors updated every 2 years, incomplete BBB was associated with a 1.4-fold (95% CI, 1.05 to 1.96; P=0.03) and complete BBB with a 1.7-fold (95% CI, 1.28 to 2.35; P<0.001) risk of CHF. These associations were maintained on adjustment for baseline left ventricular mass. In our community-based sample, longer electrocardiographic QRS was associated with increased CHF risk, consistent with the hypothesis that depolarization delay may increase CHF risk.