Brain natriuretic peptide (BNP), NT-proBNP and NT-pro-atrial natriuretic peptide (NT-proANP) were measured in blood samples from 57 patients using immunoassays and immunoradiometric assays to evaluate the usefulness as diagnostic markers for the detection of heart failure. For the detection of impaired left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF), receiver operating characteristic curves showed that BNP had the best diagnostic performance with an area under curve (AUC) of 0.75+/-0.06. However, NT-proBNP (AUC: 0.67+/-0.07) and NT-proANP (AUC: 0.69+/-0.08) showed no significant difference to BNP. In a further analysis for the detection of resting LVEF <40%, BNP again was the best marker with an AUC of 0.83+/-0.06. NT-proBNP showed only a slightly smaller AUC (0.79+/-0.07). The AUC for NT-proANP was significantly smaller (0.65+/-0.08) compared to BNP. Additionally, BNP and NT-proBNP correlated negatively with the resting LVEF (BNP: -0.472, p<0.001; NT-proBNP: -0.306, p=0.026), whereas NT-proANP showed no significant correlation. In summary, BNP was the best marker to detect patients with impaired LVEF compared to NT-proBNP and NT-proANP. However, NT-proBNP showed no significant differences to BNP and it is therefore a new promising alternative marker for the detection of left ventricular dysfunction.