Introduction: The majority of victims who experience out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) have ventricular fibrillation (VF) as the presenting rhythm and are thought to have a cardiac etiology for their arrest. Over the past decade, the incidence of VF OHCA has declined. The aims of this study were to describe the epidemiology of OHCA of non-cardiac origin in Olmsted County MN and to determine the trends that have occurred over time. Methods: All residents with a traumatic OHCA from 1995 to 2005 were included for analysis. OHCA data were collected prospectively according to the Utstein method. Cardiac arrests were classified as cardiac or non-cardiac in origin and the etiology determined based on autopsy reports, electronic medical records, and/or emergency medical services reports. Results: During the study period, 414 OHCAs were identified, 90 (21.7%) of which were classified as non-cardiac. Mean age was 61.5 ± 19.7 years. Response time was 7.73 ± 2.9 min, and 40 (44.4%) were bystander-witnessed. Sixty-eight (75.6%) arrests occurred at home, 13 (14.4%) in a public place, and 9 (10%) in other locations. Bystander CPR was performed in 17 (18.9%) cases. The presenting rhythm was VF in 2 (2.2%) cases, PEA in 54 (60%), and asystole in 34 (37.8%). Eight (8.9%) patients survived to hospital discharge. Respiratory failure (35.6%), unknown (15.6%), and pulmonary embolism (13.3%) were the most common etiologies. The mean percentage of arrests due to a non-cardiac cause in three sequential time-periods (1995-1999, 2000-2002, 2003-2005) was 9.4%, 20.1% and 37.7%, respectively. Conclusions: Over the study period, 21.7% of OHCAs were non-cardiac in origin. PEA was the most common presenting rhythm and respiratory failure the most common etiology. 8.9% of patients survived. The decreasing number of VF arrests may be a contributing factor to the increasing proportion of OHCAs of non-cardiac etiology observed in the out-of-hospital setting. © 2006 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.