A new technique is presented for extracting the magnitude and direction of ventricular depolarization at the body surface from surface electrocardiographic (ECG) map data. Bipolar electrocardiograms were obtained from 36 sites on the chest surface in five normal subjects. The direction and magnitude of depolarization as seen from the chest surface were calculated for 18 body-surface areas centred between electrode positions V1 and V6. Each area was bounded by three electrodes with an electrode spacing of 5 cm. A major depolarization component could be calculated for all triangular areas, with 48% of areas having a smaller second component. The area with the greatest magnitude in each subject had a depolarization vector pointing downwards and to the left, with an average angle to the horizontal of 55 degrees . This was consistent with an average angle of 51 degrees obtained from the subjects' 12-lead electrocardiograms. There was more variability in vector angle between adjacent areas on the right-hand side. At the V5/V6 areas, close to the cardiac apex, the vector component had an upwards orientation in all subjects, opposing the overall downward component of ventricular depolarization. The technique was able to determine local depolarization directions which were in agreement with the normal cardiac vector derived from standard electrocardiography. Reversal of the vector direction close to the cardiac apex and the collision of depolarization components from different directions could be detected. This simple form of body-surface mapping can reduce the essential features of depolarization to a single map, and provide information not directly available from a 12-lead electrocardiogram.