Endomyocardial biopsy is the gold standard survey for cardiac graft rejection. Signal-averaged electrocardiography (SAECG) identifies slowly conducting, diseased myocardium. We sought to determine whether SAECG is a sensitive, noninvasive transplant surveillance method in the young.Ninety-four SAECGs recorded prior to biopsy in 20 young transplant (OHT) patients and those from 15 healthy age-matched controls (CTL) were analyzed. In the OHT group, 56 no-rejection (NOREJ) (ISHLT grades 0 or 1 A) and 37 acute rejection (REJ) (ISHLT grades IB, 2, and 3A) SAECGs were compared, SAECGs were filtered at 40-255 Hz. Total QRS duration (QRSd), duration of terminal low amplitude of QRS under 40 microV (LAS), and root mean square amplitude of terminal 40 msec of QRS (RMS40) were compared.SAECGs were significantly different in CTL vs NOREJ but not in NOREJ vs REJ: QRSd, 81.7 +/- 8, 107.2 +/- 18.4, and 112.3 +/- 21.6 msec, respectively; LAS, (18 +/- 5.8, 23.6 +/- 10.7, and 27 +/- 14.8 msec, respectively; and RMS40, (169.3 +/- 100.4, 68 +/- 48.8, and 57.5 +/- 45.6 microV, respectively. Children following OHT exhibited significant differences in the SAECG compared to controls. Differences between the NOREJ and REJ groups were negligible. Therefore, SAECG may not be effective in detecting OHT rejection in the young.