Patients with heart failure are prone to a variety of arrhythmias, symptomatic and asymptomatic, that are prognostically significant and have an important bearing on the management of these patients. However there are some inherent problems in assessing the frequency of these arrhythmias within a large patient population, due to a lack of uniformity in defining heart failure and the transient nature of these rhythms. Patients with heart failure commonly die suddenly. The causes of these deaths are difficult to ascertain accurately and are often presumed arrhythmic. With the advent of effective interventions to prevent sudden death, accurately defining the causal relationship between the arrhythmias and sudden death has assumed great importance to appropriately target therapy. Several attempts have been made to predict such deaths on the basis of non-invasive and invasive diagnostic investigations with variable success. In this article we review the incidence and prevalence of atrial and ventricular arrhythmias and sudden deaths in epidemiological studies, surveys and randomised control trials of patients with heart failure. We discuss the prognostic significance of these arrhythmias, the inherent problems in their diagnosis and whether their presence predicts the risk of sudden deaths and the mode of such deaths in the heart failure population. The role of various investigations in risk stratification of sudden death has also been discussed.