Disclosed is an expandable transluminal sheath, for introduction into the body while in a first, low cross-sectional area configuration, and subsequent expansion of at least a part of the distal end of the sheath to a second, enlarged cross-sectional configuration. The sheath is configured for use in the vascular system. The access route is through the inferior vena cava to the right atrium, where a trans-septal puncture, followed by advancement of the catheter is completed. The distal end of the sheath is maintained in the first, low cross-sectional configuration during advancement through the atrial septum into the left atrium. The distal end of the sheath is expanded using a radial dilator. In one application, the sheath is utilized to provide access for a diagnostic or therapeutic procedure such as electrophysiological mapping of the heart, radio-frequency ablation of left atrial tissue, placement of atrial implants, valve repair, or the like.