Echocardiographic quantitative assessment of the atrioventricular plane displacement (AVPD) in systole towards the apex has been used to estimate global left ventricular (LV) function. The study population consisted of 106 patients with coronary artery disease (CAD) with or without previous myocardial infarction and 40 age-matched healthy subjects. The AVPD was recorded from the apical four- and two-chamber views at four sites corresponding to the septal, lateral, anterior and posterior walls of the left ventricle. A mean displacement (AVmean) was calculated from the above sites. AVmean was significantly decreased in patients with CAD compared to healthy subjects (P less than 0.001). In patients in whom the left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) was calculated from cineangiograms a good correlation between AVmean and LVEF was found (r = 0.89, P less than 0.001, SEE = 6.4). Selecting an AVmean of 10 mm or more to define a normal LVEF (greater than or equal to 55%) resulted in a sensitivity of 92% and a specificity of 87% in predicting a normal versus abnormal left ventricular systolic function. It is concluded that the ease of recording the AVPD by echocardiography provides a simple and valuable noninvasive method to assess global left ventricular function in patients with CAD.