Sudden death is probably the greatest challenge in modern cardiology. After reviewing its history, we describe the epidemiology of sudden death and its associated diseases. We highlight its physiopathologic aspects, including the factors that act on vulnerable myocardium triggering the final arrhythmia, mainly ventricular fibrillation and, to a lesser extent, bradycardia and sudden death. We emphasize the relevance of acute ischemia, ventricular dysfunction and genetic factors, not only in genetic heart disease, but also as triggers of sudden death in acute and chronic ischemic heart disease. Finally, we describe the best way to identify candidates at risk, discuss how to prevent sudden death, and outline the best approach to managing a patient resuscitated from cardiac arrest. Full English text available from:www.revespcardiol.org.