AIM: To describe cardiac arrest data from five emergency medical services (EMS) systems in Europe with regard to survival from an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. METHODS: Based on recommendations from various countries in Europe EMS systems were approached with regard to survival from out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. Five EMS systems were asked to report their cardiac arrest data according to the Utstein style. RESULTS: The five selected EMS systems were: Bonn (Germany), Göttingen (Germany), Helsinki (Finland), Reykjavik (Iceland) and Stavanger (Norway). For patients with a bystander witnessed arrest of cardiac aetiology the percentage of patients being discharged alive from hospital in these regions were: 21, 33, 23, 23 and 35. The corresponding percentages for patients fulfilling criteria as above and being found in ventricular fibrillation were: 32, 42, 32, 27 and 55. CONCLUSIONS: Many EMS systems in Europe show extremely good results in terms of survival after an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. Some of the results should be interpreted with caution since they were based on relatively small sample sizes. Furthermore, the results from one of the regions (Stavanger) was unit based and not community based.