Conventional implantable dual-chamber cardiac pacemakers adjust heart rate and maintain normal atrial and ventricular contraction by tracking 'native' atrial electrical activity and pacing the ventricles after a predetermined programmable atrioventricular delay. However, in patients with symptomatic bradyarrhythmias, optimal function of 'atrial-tracking' devices may be limited by concomitant sinoatrial disease. Provision of chronotropic response during physical exertion or emotional stress may be achieved by using physiologic sensors to alter pacing rate independently of atrial activity. Additional systems using sensor technologies are being developed. Future pacing systems will have dual-chamber pacing capability and may use several sensors coupled synergistically in order to take advantage of particular strenghts of each. Physiologic sensor technology may be of diagnostic value in both antitachycardia devices and implantable cardioverter and defibrillator systems.