Although exercise training-induced changes in left ventricular (LV) structure are well characterized, adaptive functional changes are incompletely understood. Detailed echocardiographic assessment of LV systolic function was performed on 20 competitive rowers (10 males and 10 females) before and after endurance exercise training (EET; 90 days, 10.7 +/- 1.1 h/wk). Structural changes included LV dilation (end-diastolic volume = 128 +/- 25 vs. 144 +/- 28 ml, P < 0.001), right ventricular (RV) dilation (end-diastolic area = 2,850 +/- 550 vs. 3,260 +/- 530 mm2, P < 0.001), and LV hypertrophy (mass = 227 +/- 51 vs. 256 +/- 56 g, P < 0.001). Although LV ejection fraction was unchanged (62 +/- 3% vs. 60 +/- 3%, P = not significant), all direct measures of LV systolic function were altered. Peak systolic tissue velocities increased significantly (basal lateral S'Delta = 0.9 +/- 0.6 cm/s, P = 0.004; and basal septal S'Delta = 0.8 +/- 0.4 cm/s, P = 0.008). Radial strain increased similarly in all segments, whereas longitudinal strain increased with a base-to-apex gradient. In contrast, circumferential strain (CS) increased in the LV free wall but decreased in regions adjacent to the RV. Reductions in septal CS correlated strongly with changes in RV structure (DeltaRV end-diastolic area vs. DeltaLV septal CS; r2 = 0.898, P < 0.001) and function (Deltapeak RV systolic velocity vs. DeltaLV septal CS, r2 = 0.697, P < 0.001). EET leads to significant changes in LV systolic function with regional heterogeneity that may be secondary to concomitant RV adaptation. These changes are not detected by conventional measurements such as ejection fraction.