The occurrence of arrhythmia is often related to basic heart rate. Prognostic significance is associated with such a relationship; furthermore, heart rate modulation may result as an ancillary effect of therapy, or be considered as a therapeutic tool. This review discusses the cellular mechanisms underlying arrhythmia occurrence during tachycardia or bradycardia, considering rate changes per se or as a mirror of autonomic modulation. Besides the influence of steady-state heart rate, dynamic aspects of changes in rate and autonomic balance are considered. The discussion leads to the conclusion that the prognostic significance of arrhythmia relationship with heart rate, and the consequence of heart rate on arrhythmogenesis, may vary according to the substrate present in the specific case and should be considered accordingly.