Aims: Risk stratification models of sudden cardiac death (SCD) are based on the assumption that risk factors of SCD affect risk to a similar extent in both sexes. The aim of the study is to evaluate differences in clinical outcomes between sexes and evaluate whether risk factors associated with appropriate device therapy (ADT) differ between men and women. Methods and results: We performed a cohort study of implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) patients referred for primary or secondary prevention of SCD between 2009 and 2018. Multivariable Cox regression models for prediction of ADT were constructed for men and women separately. Of 2300 included patients, 571 (25%) were women. Median follow-up was 4.6 (inter-quartile range: 4.4–4.9) years. Time to ADT was shorter for men compared with women [hazard ratio (HR) 1.71, P < 0.001], as was time to mortality (HR 1.37, P = 0.003). In women, only secondary prevention ICD therapy (HR 1.82, P < 0.01) was associated with ADT, whereas higher age (HR 1.20, P < 0.001), absence of left bundle branch block (HR 0.72, P = 0.01), and secondary prevention therapy (HR 1.80, P < 0.001) were independently associated with ADT in men. None of the observed parameters showed a distinctive sex-specific pattern in ADT. Conclusions: Male ICD patients were at higher risk of ADT and death compared with female ICD patients, irrespective of an ischaemic or non-ischaemic underlying cardiomyopathy. Our study highlights the importance to stratify outcomes of ICD trials by sex, as study results differ between men and women. However, none of the available clinical parameters showed a clear sex-specific relation to ventricular arrhythmias. As a consequence, sex-specific risk stratification models of SCD using commonly available clinical parameters could not be derived.