Assessment of myocardial velocities by Doppler tissue imaging is gaining in importance. However, generally accepted reference values are still missing. In this study we examined 62 consecutive healthy subjects (mean age 46, range 22-82 years) by pulsed wave Doppler tissue imaging to characterize the systolic and diastolic velocity profiles of the left and right ventricles. The subjects were divided into 3 different age-groups: group I, younger than 40 years; group II, 40 to 59 years; and group III, 60 years and older. Recordings were made along the long axis in the apical 4- and 2-chamber views by using 4 sites (septal, anterior, lateral, and inferior) at the mitral annulus and 1 site at the tricuspid annulus. Systolic mitral annular velocity (10.3 +/- 1.4 cm/s) correlated strongly with global left ventricular function determined by M-mode echocardiographic mitral annular displacement (r = 0.70, P <.001). The systolic velocity was significantly lower in group III than in group I (9.6 vs 10.8 cm/s, P <.01). A relatively weak, but significant, correlation was found between systolic velocity and the age of the subjects (r = -0.43, P <.001). Mitral annular early diastolic velocity was also lower in group III compared with group I (11.3 vs 17.7 cm/s, P <.001), with a strong correlation with age (r = -0.81, P <.001) and other conventional Doppler diastolic parameters. Both the systolic and early diastolic mitral annular velocities at the septum were lower than at other left ventricular sites. Tricuspid annular systolic velocity (15.2 +/- 1.9 cm/s) was higher than mitral annular systolic velocity (P <.001). Unlike mitral annular velocity, systolic tricuspid annular velocity was not correlated with age. However, the diastolic tricuspid annular velocities correlated well with transtricuspid Doppler diastolic parameters. The method of recording the annular velocities was feasible in all subjects, simple and highly reproducible.