We describe the design of an instrument that can acquire and store the average heart rate of a subject over 256 time intervals of predetermined length (1 or 6 min) during normal daily activities. The instrument consists of two units: a portable recorder, worn by the patient, detects and counts heart beats, and stores their average in memory, and a display later retrieves the contents of that memory. C.M.O.S. technology and programmable operational amplifiers resulted in low power consumption (20 mW). The results obtained from this instrument were accurate to about 1 beat/min compared with Holter monitoring and telemetry.