Germany posted the fastest time of the 4x400m semi-finals, 3:24.70, thanks partly to a last leg effort by Grit Breuer timed at 50.4.
Running in the first heat they pulled the Czech Republic to a national record of 3:25.11 in second place. Great Britain took the third automatic qualifying spot from the first heat in 3:25.78, defeating Nigeria, whose team included Falilat Ogunkoya, the individual 400m bronze medallist in Atlanta. Nigeria still qualified taking one of the two fastest time places.
In the second heat, three teams likely to challenge for medals - USA, Jamaica and Russia - came home in that order as the three automatic qualifiers. It was a slower race than the first, with USA winning in 3:25.37. Italy, in fourth position, ran 3:30.34 and also qualified.