Background - Little is known about the effects of heart failure (HF) on the defibrillation threshold (DFT) and the characteristics of activation during ventricular fibrillation (VF). Methods and Results - HF was induced by rapid right ventricular (RV) pacing for at least 3 weeks in 6 dogs. Another 6 dogs served as controls. Catheter defibrillation electrodes were placed in the RV apex, the superior vena cava, and the great cardiac vein (CV). An active can coupled to the superior vena cava electrode served as the return for the RV and CV electrodes. DFTs were determined before and during HF for a shock through the RV electrode with and without a smaller auxiliary shock through the CV electrode. VF activation patterns were recorded in HF and control animals from 21×24 unipolar electrodes spaced 2 mm apart on the ventricular epicardium. Using these recordings, we computed a number of quantitative VF descriptors. DFT was unchanged in the control dogs. DFT energy was increased 79% and 180% (with and without auxiliary shock, respectively) in HF compared with control dogs. During but not before HF, DFT energy was significantly lowered (21%) by addition of the auxiliary shock. The VF descriptors revealed marked VF differences between HF and control dogs. The differences suggest decreased excitability and an increased refractory period during HF. Most, but not all, descriptors indicate that VF was less complex during HF, suggesting that VF complexity is multifactorial and cannot be expressed by a scalar quantity. Conclusions - HF increases the DFT. This is partially reversed by an auxiliary shock. HF markedly changes VF activation patterns.