The amino acid, taurine, is an important nutrient found in very high concentration in excitable tissue. Cellular depletion of taurine has been linked to developmental defects, retinal damage, immunodeficiency, impaired cellular growth and the development of a cardiomyopathy. These findings have encouraged the use of taurine in infant formula, nutritional supplements and energy promoting drinks. Nonetheless, the use of taurine as a drug to treat specific diseases has been limited. One disease that responds favorably to taurine therapy is congestive heart failure. In this review, we discuss three mechanisms that might underlie the beneficial effect of taurine in heart failure. First, taurine promotes natriuresis and diuresis, presumably through its osmoregulatory activity in the kidney, its modulation of atrial natriuretic factor secretion and its putative regulation of vasopressin release. However, it remains to be determined whether taurine treatment promotes salt and water excretion in humans with heart failure. Second, taurine mediates a modest positive inotropic effect by regulating [Na+]i and Na+/Ca2+ exchanger flux. Although this effect of taurine has not been examined in human tissue, it is significant that it bypasses the major calcium transport defects found in the failing human heart. Third, taurine attenuates the actions of angiotensin II on Ca2+ transport, protein synthesis and angiotensin II signaling. Through this mechanism taurine would be expected to minimize many of the adverse actions of angiotensin II, including the induction of cardiac hypertrophy, volume overload and myocardial remodeling. Since the ACE inhibitors are the mainstay in the treatment of congestive heart failure, this action of taurine is probably very important.