OBJECTIONS: The objective of this study is to compare the circadian patterns of heart rate variability assessed by 24-hour ambulatory electrocardiographic (ECG) recordings during day shift and night shift among the workers in the 5 days-concecutive- 12-hour shift in an automobile factory in Korea. METHODS: The study population consisted 300 workers, who were randomly selected among the 8700 total workers in one car factory. To analyse circadian variation, the 24-hour ECG recordings (Marquette) were measured during day shift (08: 00-20: 00 h) and night shift (20: 00-08: 00 h). Analysis was performed for all time and frequency domain measures of HRV. 233 workers completed taking 24-hour ECG recordings. RESULTS: This study shows that the 24 hourcircadian variation mainly follows work/sleep cycle rather than day/night cycle among shift workers. This study also shows that among the night shift, the circadian variation between work and sleep cycle decreased compared to the work/sleep cycle among day shift workers. All time and frequency domain parameters (except LF/HF ratio) show significantly different between work and sleep in the day shift and night shift. CONCLUSION: These changes in heart rate variability circadian rhythms reflect significant reductions in cardiac parasympathetic activity with the most marked reduction in normal vagal activity among the shift workers. Especially, it suggests the circadian rhytm has blunted among the night workers. The quantification of the circadian variation in HRV can be a surrogates of workers' potential health risk, as well as suggests possible mechanisms through which the shift works compromise workers' health.