Acute heart failure (AHF) represents a major public health problem due to its high prevalence, high rates of mortality and readmissions and significant healthcare costs. Patients with AHF and low cardiac output represent a small subgroup of patients with very high mortality rates that require inotropic support to improve cardiac systolic function. Classical inotropic agents, such as β1-adrenergic agonists (dobutamine, dopamine) and phosphodiesterase III inhibitors (milrinone, enoximone) improve symptoms and hemodynamics by increasing free intracellular Ca2+ levels, but also increase myocardial O2 demands and exert arrhythmogenic effects. These actions explain why these drugs increase both short- and long-term mortality, particularly in patients with AHF and coronary artery disease. Thus, we need new inotropic agents that do not increase cytosolic Ca2+ or myocardial oxygen demands or produce arrhythmogenesis for the treatment of high-risk patients with (AHF) and low cardiac output. This review describes three new classes of investigational agents: levosimendan, a calcium sensitizer and potassium channel opener, istaroxime, the first new luso-inotropic agent and cardiac myosin activators.