Abstract Background Recent advances in resuscitation science have revolutionized care of the cardiac arrest patient. Dramatic departures from time-honored advanced cardiac life support therapies, such as cardiocerebral resuscitation and bundled post-arrest care, have given rise to a new paradigm of resuscitation practices, which has boosted the rate of neurologically intact survival. Objectives This article reviews the pathophysiology of the post-cardiac arrest syndrome, the collective pathophysiology after return of spontaneous circulation, and presents management pearls specifically for the emergency physician. This growing area of scientific inquiry must be managed appropriately to sustain improved outcomes. Discussion The emergency physician must understand this pathophysiology, manage resuscitated patients according to the latest evidence, and coordinate with appropriate inpatient resources. Conclusion The new approach to cardiac arrest care is predicated on a chain of survival that spans the spectrum of care from the prehospital arena through the emergency, intensive, and inpatient settings. The emergency physician is a crucial link in this chain.