Increased left-ventricular mass is an important cardiovascular risk factor for morbidity and mortality. Apart from obvious differences in cardiac size, the changes in left-ventricular mass in response to age and hypertrophic stimuli are very different in men and women. Whereas left-ventricular mass increases with age in apparently healthy women, it remains constant in men. Under increased cardiac loading conditions, such as hypertension or aortic stenosis, this disparity between sexes is even more striking. Findings are especially pronounced in people aged 50 years or older, in whom reproductive hormone concentrations have fallen. Whether the differences in left-ventricular mass changes are related to endogenous sex-hormone concentrations has never been shown. Androgens have anabolic effects on cardiac cells, and oestrogens have antiproliferative properties, we therefore postulate that the normal decline in endogenous sex hormones with age has contrary effects on ventricular mass in men and women in normal and pathological states.