It has been shown that certain patients with cirrhosis have asymptomatic cardiac abnormalities that have not yet been explained. Thus, cardiac troponin I, a specific marker of myocardial injury, has been measured in patients with cirrhosis without previous cardiac disease. Thirty-two consecutive patients (age 49 +/- 11) with cirrhosis and normal ECG were selected, 22 of which were alcoholic. Hemodynamic investigations were performed. Left ventricular function and mass were evaluated by echocardiography. Serum creatine kinase MB mass, myoglobin, and cardiac troponin I concentrations were measured. Cardiac troponin I concentrations were elevated in 10 patients (32%) (range 0.06-0.25 microg/L) whereas creatine kinase MB mass and myoglobin were normal in all patients. Abnormal troponin I values were not related to the severity of cirrhosis, to the degree of portal hypertension, or to other hemodynamic values. In contrast, elevated serum cardiac troponin I concentrations were related to a decreased stroke-volume index (P <. 05) and a decreased left ventricular mass (P <.05). These results show a high prevalence of slightly elevated serum cardiac troponin I in patients with cirrhosis, especially in those with alcoholic cirrhosis. Elevated troponin I is associated with subclinical left ventricular myocardial damage. These findings may be linked to a lack of left ventricular adaptation in certain patients with cirrhosis and alcoholic cardiomyopathy.