<i>Objectives:</i> Ivabradine is a selective heart rate-lowering agent that acts by inhibiting the pacemaker current <i>I</i><sub>f</sub> in sinoatrial node cells. Patients with coronary artery disease and left ventricular dysfunction are at high risk of death and cardiac events, and the BEAUTIFUL study was designed to evaluate the effects of ivabradine on outcome in such patients receiving optimal medical therapy. This report describes the study population at baseline. <i>Methods:</i> BEAUTIFUL is an international, multicentre, randomized, double-blind trial to compare ivabradine with placebo in reducing mortality and cardiovascular events in patients with stable coronary artery disease and left ventricular systolic dysfunction (ejection fraction <40%). <i>Results:</i> A total of 10,917 patients were randomized. At baseline, their mean age was 65 years, 83% were male, 98% Caucasian, 88% had previous myocardial infarction, 37% had diabetes, and 40% had metabolic syndrome. Mean ejection fraction was 32% and resting heart rate was 71.6 bpm. Concomitant medications included beta-blockers (87%), renin-angiotensin system agents (89%), antithrombotic agents (94%), and lipid-lowering agents (76%). <i>Conclusions:</i> Main results from BEAUTIFUL are expected in 2008, and should show whether ivabradine, on top of optimal medical treatment, reduces mortality and cardiovascular events in this population of high-risk patients.