Surgical arrhythmia therapy may be performed for patients failing the catheter ablation approach or incorporated into repair of complex congenital heart disease. Variations in atrial and ventricular anatomy that may limit the catheter approach can be directly addressed surgically assuring lesion depth and continuity of anatomic lines of block. Between July 1992 and August 2002, we performed arrhythmia surgery on 34 patients for refractory atrial (n = 29) or ventricular (n = 5) arrhythmias. Not included in this series are patients who had arrhythmia surgery during Fontan conversion. The majority of patients had various forms of complex congenital heart disease; two had structurally normal hearts. Median age at surgery was 13.0 years (range, 7 days to 45 years). Five patients were infants (mean age, 25 days). Twenty-two patients (65%) had an average of 2.8 previous cardiac procedures; all required resternotomy. Operative mortality was 5.9% (2 of 34 patients) because of low cardiac output in one patient following Mustard takedown and arterial switch operation and in one neonate with Ebstein's anomaly and pulmonary atresia. Ablative surgery for supraventricular tachycardia (atrial re-entry, automatic atrial, atrioventricular nodal re-entry, and atrial fibrillation) had a 93% success rate (25 of 27 patients). Clinical tachycardia recurred in two of 27 surviving patients (7%) with atrial arrhythmia, one after an arrhythmia-free interval of several years. Ventricular tachycardia was inducible postoperatively in two of three patients with ventricular arrhythmias and congenital heart disease. Patient size or anatomic complexity should not be limiting factors in the combined surgical arrhythmia approach. Because older patients undergoing surgical revision of prior surgical repairs of congenital heart disease are at increased risk for the later development of atrial arrhythmias, incorporation of arrhythmia therapy into any planned surgical revision should be routinely considered.