Encainide treatment in patients after myocardial infarction is associated with increased risk of sudden cardiac death. This may relate to drug-induced changes in the electrophysiologic milieu, thus predisposing the patient to sustained ventricular tachyarrhythmias. The goals of this study were to first develop a model of class Ic-induced ventricular tachycardia (VT) and then to design treatments to oppose this prodysrhythmic activity. Dogs with time-dependent loss of inducible sustained VT in the antiarrhythmic drug-free state were studied late after infarction. These dogs received a series of three loading and maintenance infusions of O-demethyl encainide (ODME) to achieve concentrations of 60 +/- 31, 136 +/- 46 and 339 +/- 171 ng/ml. Drug maintenance continued until programmed stimulation induced monomorphic sustained VT. When ODME infusion allowed this induction, barium chloride infusions were added. ODME treatment allowed induction of monomorphic sustained VT in 9 of 10 dogs studied. Prodysrhythmic monomorphic VT was significantly related (P < .01) to prolongation of conduction velocity in the peri-infarct zone. ODME modestly increased ventricular refractoriness at some but not all peri-infarct sites. Infusion of barium chloride in the above nine dogs caused their hearts to return to the noninducible state. Prolongation of refractoriness in the peri-infarct zone was correlated to this suppression of prodysrhythmia. Prolongation of conduction velocity in the absence of substantial prolongation of refractoriness may underlie ODME-facilitated induction of monomorphic VT. Prolongation of refractoriness in the peri-infarct zone by combination treatment with barium chloride reversed prodysrhythmic VT in all of the dogs.