The size of the left atrium is usually increased during atrial fibrillation (AF). The aim of the present study was to evaluate changes in left atrial (LA) dimension after cardioversion for AF, and the relation between LA dimension and atrial function. The initial study population included 171 consecutive patients. Patients who had spontaneous cardioversion to sinus rhythm (56 patients) were compared with patients who had random cardio-version with drugs (50 patients) or direct-current (DC) shock (50 patients). Echocardiographic evaluations included LA size and volume. LA passive and active emptying volumes were calculated, and LA function was assessed. Atrial stunning was observed in 18 patients reverted with DC shock and in 7 patients reverted with drugs. The left atrium was dilated in all patients during AF (48 +/- 5 mm). The size of the left atrium decreased after restoration of sinus rhythm in all patients with spontaneous reversion to sinus rhythm, in 73% of patients reverted with drugs, and in 50% of patients reverted with DC shock. The comparison between patients with a normal mechanical atrial function and patients with reduced atrial function showed that a higher atrial ejection force was associated with a more marked reduction in LA size after restoration of sinus rhythm. A relation between LA volumes and atrial ejection force was observed in the group of patients with depressed atrial mechanical function (r = -0.78; p <0.001). The active emptying fraction was lower, although not significantly, in this group, whereas the conduit volume was increased. Thus, a depressed atrial mechanical function after cardioversion for AF was associated with a persistence of LA dilation.