Our understanding of the physical underpinnings of the assessment of cardiac function is becoming increasingly sophisticated. Recent developments in cardiac ultrasound permit exploitation of many of these newer physical concepts with current echocardiographic machines. This review will first focus on the current approach to the assessment of cardiovascular hemodynamics by cardiac ultrasound. The next focus will be the assessment of global cardiac mechanics in systole and diastole. Finally, relationships between the cardiac structure and regional myocardial function, and the way regional function can be quantified by ultrasound, will be presented. This review also discusses the clinical impact of echocardiography and its future directions and developments.