The effectiveness of coronary venous retroperfusion treatment of an ischemic myocardial segment was assessed by measurements of regional and global myocardial function in 16 dogs. The left anterior descending coronary artery was acutely occluded for 75 minutes. After the first 30 minutes of occlusion, diastolic retroperfusion was instituted for 45 minutes by synchronized pumping of arterial blood from the brachial artery into the anterior interventricular coronary vein. Data collected in the preocclusion control period, during occlusion and the subsequent retroperfusion period included simultaneous measurement os ischemic and border zone myocardial forces, epicardial electrocardiographic S-T segments, intracoronary pressure, coronary blood flow and oxygen pressure (PO2) sampled distal to the site of occlusion. Retroperfusion resulted in significant improvement from the level of regional dysfunction observed after 30 minutes of occlusion: Ischemic zone myocardial force increased 106%, epicardial S-T elevation decreased 46%, normalized peripheral left anterior descending coronary arterial flow increased 50% and distal left anterior descending PO2 decreased 44%. These regional improvements were significant when compared with findings in an untreated series of 12 dogs with 75 minutes occlusion of the left anterior descending coronary artery. Diastolic-augmented coronary venous retroperfusion with arterial blood provided significant but not complete restoration of function in the ischemic segment. Therefore, in the earliest phase of acute myocardial infarction, retroperfusion might represent a useful temporary support to an otherwise inaccessible jeopardized zone of the heart. Regional retroperfusion may constitute an effective emergency procedure, particularly when the occlusive lesions are diffuse and other medical or surgical emergency procedures are inadvisable, unavailable or ineffective.