Symptoms consistent with cardiac disease have been noted as part of the syndrome of lead (Pb) intoxication. All types of cardiotoxicity noted in patients have been reproduced in experimental animals exposed acutely to high concentrations of Pb, or chronically exposed to lower levels. Types of cardiac effects observed include negative inotropism and electrocardiogram abnormalities, particularly conduction defects. Neonatal rats exposed to Pb via the milk of dams provided a drinking solution of lead acetate exhibit approximately four times the sensitivity to the arrhythmogenic effect of norepinephrine as adults compared with controls. Cardiotoxicity occurs after exposure as short as the first 10 postnatal days, but is not expressed until the rats are adult. Increased sensitivity to the arrhythmogenic effect of norepinephrine was seen in Pb-exposed animals in vivo and in isolated hearts from Pb-exposed animals in vitro. Norepinephrine arrhythmogenesis in vivo was attenuated by atropine or vagotomy, which indicates vagal nerve involvement. Possible mechanisms including interference with central gamma-aminobutyric acid systems, alteration of adrenergic nerve development, and Pb-Ca interaction are discussed.