Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is described as the sudden and unexplained death of an apparently healthy infant younger than one year of age. Genetic studies indicate that up to 35% of SIDS cases might be explained by familial or genetic diseases such as cardiomyopathies, ion channelopathies or metabolic disorders that remained undetected during conventional forensic autopsy procedures. Post-mortem genetic testing by using massive parallel sequencing (MPS) approaches represents an efficient and rapid tool to further investigate unexplained death cases and might help to elucidate pathogenic genetic variants and mechanisms in cases without a conclusive cause of death. In this study, we performed whole-exome sequencing (WES) in 161 European SIDS infants with focus on 192 genes associated with cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. Potentially causative variants were detected in 20% of the SIDS cases. The majority of infants had variants with likely functional effects in genes associated with channelopathies (9%), followed by cardiomyopathies (7%) and metabolic diseases (1%). Although lethal arrhythmia represents the most plausible and likely cause of death, the majority of SIDS cases still remains elusive and might be explained by a multifactorial etiology, triggered by a combination of different genetic and environmental risk factors. As WES is not substantially more expensive than a targeted sequencing approach, it represents an unbiased screening of the exome, which could help to investigate different pathogenic mechanisms within the genetically heterogeneous SIDS cohort. Additionally, re-analysis of the datasets provides the basis to identify new candidate genes in sudden infant death.European Journal of Human Genetics advance online publication, 11 January 2017; doi:10.1038/ejhg.2016.199.