The standard 12-lead electrocardiogram (ECG) is used in many epidemiologic studies to diagnose and predict cardiovascular disease. In view of this, knowledge about the reproducibility of ECG measurements and coding is essential. Minute-to-minute, day-to-day, and year-to-year variability of ECG measurements, composite scores, and Minnesota Code classification were assessed by use of a computer program, in 101 nonhospitalized elderly men and women. Interval ECG measurements were more reproducible than amplitude measurements. The best reproducibility was found for the overall QTc interval (coefficient of variation 3.1%, 4.0%, and 5.2% for the minute-to-minute, day- to-day, and year-to-year groups, respectively) and the poorest was found for the Cardiac Infarction Injury Score (coefficient of variation 67.1%, 78.5%, and 94.3%, respectively). Minnesota Code discrepancies occurred in 16%, 19%, and 22% of the ECGs in the minute-to-minute day-to-day, and year-to-year groups, respectively. Reproducibility within specific code categories was much better. Overall, variability tended to increase with time. In the routine setting, electrode positioning had relatively little effect on total variability.