Left ventricular systolic and diastolic function can be assessed by peak ejection and filling rates and their time of occurrence. These parameters can be calculated using two different methods: from the global left ventricular time-activity curve analysed with a four harmonic Fourier fit and from each pixel time-activity curve analysed with two and three harmonics (the values being averaged over the left ventricular region of interest). In both cases, values were normalized for heart rate and end diastolic counts. A study was conducted in a series of 11 patients (six without and five with a previous myocardial infarction but a normal left ventricular function) examined at baseline and during an i.v. dobutamine infusion, at a dose known to increase both peak ejection and filling rates. During dobutamine infusion, analysis of global left ventricular time-activity curve demonstrated a statistically significant increase in both peak ejection and filling rates, but the local analysis showed a more significant increase of these parameters. To assess ventricular function, a local harmonic analysis can be used and appears to be a more sensitive approach than analysis of the global left ventricular time-activity curve. The local analysis provides spatial mapping and a histogram of the parameters which can be used as parametric images to describe systolic and diastolic function.