Encainide is an agent effective in atrioventricular and atrioventricular nodal reentrant tachycardia. The metabolites O-desmethyl encainide and 3-methoxy-O-desmethyl encainide (MODE) are responsible for the clinical effects of encainide in most patients. In this study, intravenous MODE was evaluated in eight patients with reentrant supraventricular tachycardia undergoing electrophysiological testing. After tachycardia was induced at least twice to ensure reproducibility, MODE (30 micrograms/kg/min x 15 min, then 7.5 micrograms/kg/min) or placebo was administered in a double-blind fashion. If tachycardia remained inducible, the infusion was unblinded; in nonresponding subjects who received placebo, MODE was then administered. Placebo was ineffective in 3/3 patients. MODE prevented tachycardia induction in 5/8 patients and increased the tachycardia cycle length from 302 +/- 38 to 413 +/- 67 msec in the other three. At a mean concentration of 774 +/- 229 ng/ml, MODE prolonged PR, AH, HV, QRS, and QT intervals, right ventricular and accessory pathway effective refractory periods, and slowed or blocked antegrade accessory pathway conduction. Changes in intracardiac conduction were rate independent between cycle lengths 400 to 600 msec, while changes in ventricular effective refractory periods were most pronounced at rapid pacing rates. No adverse effects, hemodynamic changes, or conduction disturbances occurred. Thus, MODE can modify or suppress induction of reentrant atrioventricular or atrioventricular nodal tachycardia. The study design used here is well suited for the evaluation of newer antiarrhythmic agents by electrophysiological testing.