The United States team of James Davis, Derrick Brew, Milton Campbell and Jerome Young were superb, running 3:04.17 to win the opening heat. Only three relay performances in indoor history have been faster.
James Davis got the Americans off to a spectacular start, running 45.89 in the leadoff position.
Jamaica (3:06.46) and Great Britain (3:06.60) automatically advanced as the next two teams, as the Irish team withdrew from the competition.
Russia (3:08.71) won the second heat, with Poland—despite an untimely fall by second runner Artur Gasiewski—finishing in a qualifying second (3:16.10) after the teams from Bahamas and Spain, originally second and third, were disqualified.