BACKGROUND: This study compares the high-frequency QRS components (HF-QRS) in patients with and without standard electrocardiogram (ECG) changes indicative of old myocardial infarction (MI). Previous studies have indicated that patients with an old MI differ in their HF-QRS compared with healthy subjects. The HF-QRS has been reported to be decreased during acute coronary occlusion and increased after reperfusion. However, there is controversy about the appearance of HF-QRS after the acute phase of MI. METHODS: A total of 154 patients were included, 57 with and 97 without QRS changes of old MI on the standard ECG. The patients with old MI were divided into subgroups on the basis of the MI location indicated by the standard ECG. Signal-averaged ECGs from the 12 standard leads were recorded. The root-mean-square values of the HF-QRS were determined within two frequency bands: 150 to 250 Hz and 80 to 300 Hz. RESULTS: There was a large interindividual variation in HF-QRS in patients without MI as well as in those with different MI locations. There were no significant differences between the groups in the summed HF-QRS of all 12 leads or in the pattern of lead distribution of the HF-QRS. Not even the patients with the greatest QRS changes of old MI could be differentiated from those without any changes of old MI on the standard ECG. The results were the same in both analyzed frequency bands. CONCLUSIONS: This study shows, contrary to previous studies, that analysis of HF-QRS cannot differentiate between patients with and without old MI.