C-type natriuretic peptide (CNP) is expressed in the vascular endothelium. It is not known whether CNP is specifically increased in patients with idiopathic left ventricular systolic dysfunction (ILVDys) with or without overt heart failure, and whether in these patients it is related with indicators of myocardial and/or endothelial/microvascular impairment. We determined plasma CNP levels in 51 ILVDys and in 60 controls. We observed a significant increase in patients with (7.0+/-0.9 pg/ml) or without (6.1+/-0.53 pg/ml) overt heart failure (p<0.001) in respect to controls (2.5+/-0.12 pg/ml). CNP was significantly correlated with LVEF (p<0.001), end-diastolic dimension (p<0.05), ANP (p<0.001) and BNP (p<0.001), interleukin-6 (p<0.001), total cholesterol (p<0.05), low-density lipoprotein (p=0.05), ratio total cholesterol/ high-density lipoprotein (p=0.05) and, in a subgroup of patients, with abnormal vasodilating capacity of the coronary microcirculation. In conclusion, CNP is activated in patients with LV dysfunction but without coronary artery disease, independently of the presence of overt heart failure and in tune with the extent of myocardial functional involvement. In these patients CNP is also related with both systemic and coronary indicators of endothelial/microvascular damage.