Over the past decade, the conceptual understanding of heart failure has changed significantly. Several large clinical trials have demonstrated that pharmacologic interventions can dramatically reduce the morbidity and mortality associated with heart failure. These trials have extended the therapeutic paradigm for treating heart failure beyond the goal of limiting congestive symptoms of volume overload. This two-part article presents an evidence-based guideline to assist primary care physicians in evaluating and treating patients with heart failure. Part I describes the new paradigm of heart failure and offers guidance for diagnostic testing. Part II presents a treatment guideline.