OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study is to review the clinical course of persistent junctional reciprocating tachycardia (PJRT) in 21 patients spanning a wide age range to examine the electrophysiologic characteristics of the conduction system in these patients with PJRT, particularly in regards to its incessant nature and to evaluate the long-term response to radiofrequency ablation. BACKGROUND: Persistent junctional reciprocating tachycardia is uncommon, occurring in 1% of patients with supraventricular tachycardia. Its presentation, course and treatment are incompletely characterized. METHODS: The clinical, electrocardiographic, electrophysiologic and echocardiographic data of 21 patients with PJRT were reviewed. RESULTS: In 9 of these 21 patients, the mean tachycardia cycle length increased significantly (p < 0.0001) as the patients grew, from a mean tachycardia cycle length of 308 ± 64 ms in the patients less than 2 years, 414 ± 57 ms in the patients between 2 years and 5 years, to 445 ± 57 ms in the patients greater than 5 years, primarily due to slowing of retrograde conduction in the accessory pathway. Persistent junctional reciprocating tachycardia was associated with impaired ventricular function in 11, improving spontaneously in 4 and, after successful ablation of the accessory pathway, in 7. All patients except one were uncontrolled on one or more medications. Ablation of the accessory pathway was successful in 19 of 21 patients. CONCLUSIONS: We conclude that PJRT is characterized by an onset in early childhood and by an age-related prolongation of the tachycardia cycle length mediated primarily through conduction delay in the concealed, retrogradely conducting accessory pathway. Ablation of the accessory pathway provides definitive treatment for PJRT.