Akinesia after acute myocardial infarction (AMI) may be reversible or irreversible. Distinguishing these 2 entities early after AMI is difficult, but clinically important. Previous studies have shown that myocardial contrast echocardiography (MCE) and low-dose dobutamine echocardiography (DE) may both be useful in this setting. However, there are few data regarding the relative and combined value of these techniques. The aim of this study was to compare the utility of real-time intravenous MCE and low-dose DE in the early prediction of functional recovery of akinetic myocardium after AMI. Thirty-seven patients were studied 3 +/- 2 days after an AMI. Each subject underwent real-time MCE using an intravenous infusion of perflutren microbubbles. Immediately after this, low-dose DE was performed. Contrast opacification and wall motion were determined by experienced observers blinded to clinical data. Repeat echocardiograms were obtained 51 +/- 19 days later and wall motion at rest was scored by an observer blinded to clinical data. Normal contrast opacification predicted functional recovery with a positive predictive value of 63%, a negative predictive value of 73%, and an accuracy of 66%. Residual contractility during low-dose DE had a positive predictive value of 82%, a negative predictive value of 72%, and a predictive accuracy of 76%. When the 2 tests were concordant (64%), they had a positive predictive value of 81%, a negative predictive value of 85%, and a predictive accuracy of 83%. Low-dose DE was superior to intravenous MCE in the prediction of functional recovery of akinetic myocardium after AMI, but the combination of both maximizes predictive accuracy.