In the Losartan Intervention For Endpoint reduction in hypertension (LIFE) study, a major reduction of all-cause mortality - especially cardiovascular mortality - in patients with diabetes with left ventricular hypertrophy was reported for treatment with losartan. We postulated post hoc that losartan might have a better effect on sudden cardiac death than atenolol, and we aimed to test this hypothesis. 44 patients with diabetes died of sudden cardiac death; significantly fewer deaths arose in the losartan group (14) than in the atenolol group (30; p=0.027). In the losartan group, five (6%) of 86 patients with diabetes and atrial fibrillation during the trial died of sudden cardiac death compared with nine (2%) of 500 in those without atrial fibrillation. The respective figures for the atenolol group were 14 (13%) of 105 and 16 (3%) of 504. Our results suggest losartan affords better protection against cardiac death from arrhythmias for patients with diabetes mellitus than does atenolol. Importantly, our analyses were exploratory and require confirmation.