Recent reports have proposed that abnormal apical or anterior wall perfusion with exercise thallium-201 imaging may increase diagnostic accuracy for disease of the left anterior descending artery in patients with left bundle branch block (LBBB). To evaluate these suggestions, 83 patients with LBBB who underwent thallium-201 single-photon emission computed tomography and coronary angiography within an interval of 3 months were retrospectively reviewed. There were 59 men and 24 women aged 33 to 84 years (mean 65). Myocardial perfusion to the apex, anterior wall and anterior septum were scored qualitatively by consensus of 2 experienced observers and by quantitative analysis in comparison with a normal data base. The sensitivity, specificity and accuracy of perfusion defects in these segments were then expressed according to angiographic findings. Significant stenosis of vessels within the left anterior descending artery territory was present in 38 patients. By receiver-operator characteristic analysis, a fixed or reversible defect within the apex by the qualitative method was the best criterion for coronary artery disease. However, although highly sensitive (79 and 85% by the qualitative and quantitative methods, respectively), an apical defect was neither specific (38 and 16%, respectively), nor accurate (57 and 46%, respectively). Perfusion abnormalities in the anterior wall and septum were also of limited diagnostic accuracy. Thus, modified interpretative criteria in patients with LBBB are not clinically useful in the assessment of left anterior descending artery disease.