Concomitant susceptibility to atrioventricular (AV) node reentrant tachycardia has been demonstrated in certain patients having reentrant tachycardia utilizing accessory AV connections. For those patients undergoing accessory connection ablation, AV node surgical modification may be warranted during the same operative procedure. To assess indications for a combined operative procedure, this study evaluated potential predictors of subsequent spontaneous AV node reentrant tachycardia in patients undergoing ablation of accessory AV connections. Among 62 consecutive patients undergoing surgical ablation of an accessory AV connection, 13 (21%) manifested dual AV node pathways. The latter were identified preoperatively in five patients (four with concealed and one with bidirectional accessory connections) and postoperatively in seven (all seven with bidirectional accessory connections). In one patient with a bidirectional accessory connection, dual AV node pathways could not be demonstrated preoperatively, but AV node reentrant tachycardia was induced. Operative ablation of an accessory connection was successful in all patients. However, postoperatively, 2 of the 13 patients had inducible AV node reentrant tachycardia, 5 had AV node "echo" beats and 6 had no inducible arrhythmia. During 26 ± 7 months of follow-up study, the two patients with inducible AV node reentrant tachycardia postoperatively had symptomatic AV node reentrant tachycardia. In addition, the one patient with inducible AV node reentrant tachycardia preoperatively had recurrence of this tachycardia 4 months after attempted surgical modification of the AV node. Consequently, although dual AV node pathways appear to be common in patients undergoing surgical ablation of an accessory AV connection (21%), only a small group (3 of 13) of these patients are at risk for subsequent clinical AV node reentrant tachycardia. The presence of dual AV node pathways either alone or in conjunction with AV node echoes does not predict occurrence of AV node reentrant tachycardia. However, induction of sustained AV node reentrant tachycardia appears to be associated with a greater likelihood of spontaneous symptomatic tachycardia and therefore warrants consideration of AV node modification at the time of surgical ablation of an accessory connection.