Previous studies have demonstrated that left ventricular (LV) filling pressures can be estimated from transmitral Doppler recording in patients in sinus rhythm who have a broad spectrum of cardiac diseases. However, the correlation between pulmonary wedge pressure (PWP) and mitral Doppler profile has not yet been clearly defined in patients with atrial fibrillation, particularly in the presence of severe LV systolic dysfunction. The aim of this study was to evaluate the correlations between PWP and transmitral Doppler variables in patients with atrial fibrillation and chronic heart failure due to dilated cardiomyopathy. PWP and the mitral Doppler profile were simultaneously recorded in 35 consecutive heart failure patients (28 men, 7 women; mean age, 69 +/- 9 years) with severe LV dysfunction (mean ejection fraction 22% +/- 5%). Doppler measurements were averaged over 10 cardiac cycles. In addition, left atrial areas were derived from the apical 4-chamber view. Significant relations were observed between PWP and several parameters derived from the mitral flow: isovolumic relaxation time (r = -70), acceleration rate (r = 0.78), deceleration rate (r = 0.82), and deceleration time (r = -0.95). However, by stepwise multivariate analysis, deceleration time emerged as the sole independent predictor of PWP (r2 = 0.95, F = 590). The analysis led to the following equation: PWP = 51 - 0.26 (deceleration time). Our data suggest that mitral Doppler echocardiography is a useful tool for predicting PWP in heart failure patients with severe LV dysfunction even in the presence of atrial fibrillation.