PERTICONE, F., ET AL.: Heart Rate Variability and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. The sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is the most common cause of death in infancy. The pathophysiological mechanism leading to SIDS is still obscure. In the QT hypothesis, the mechanism must be an arrhythmogenic sympathetic imbalance: the infants die suddenly of cardiac arrhythmia. Recently, it has been suggested that analysis of heart rate variability (HRV), expressed as standard deviation or variance analysis, can provide adequate information on sympathovagal interaction. We studied 150 newborns enrolled in a previous prospective electrocardiographic study to evaluate the predictive value of QT interval for SIDS. We analyzed the ECGs recorded with infants alert on the fourth day of life and after 2 months. For each ECG, the HRV was calculated using the first standard deviation of of RR intervals (ms) measured for 1 minute. The average RR interval was 441 ± 71 ms at the fourth day and 420 ± 39 ms at the second month. The QTc and HRV mean values were 396 ± 23 and 23 ± 12 ms at the fourth day, 412 ± 19 and 15 ± 7 msec at the second month. Therefore, the SD values of heart rate were correlated with QTcin order to assess a possible relationship between the two variables. The correlation coefficient and regression equation were: -0.639 and y = 423.67 - 2.18*× (P < 0.002) at the fourth day, -0.146 and y = 418.09 - 0.37*× (NS) at the second month. In conclusion, our data seems to confirm a delayed maturation or impaired fuctioning of the autonomic nervous system in the first weeks of life, reflecting a direct correlation with QT prolongation.