Subendocardial viability ratio (SEVR), calculated through pulse wave analysis, is an index of myocardial oxygen supply and demand. Our aim was to evaluate the relationship between coronary flow reserve (CFR) and SEVR in 36 consecutive untreated hypertensives (aged 57.9 years, 12 males, all Caucasian) with indications of myocardial ischaemia and normal coronary arteries in coronary angiography. CFR was calculated by a 0.014-inch Doppler guidewire (Flowire, Volcano, San Diego, CA, USA) in response to bolus intracoronary administration of adenosine (30-60 μg). SEVR was calculated by radial applanation tonometry, while diastolic function was evaluated by means of transmitral flow and tissue Doppler imaging. Hypertensive patients with low CFR (n=24) compared with those with normal CFR (n=12) exhibited significantly decreased SEVR by 24.5% (P=0.002). In hypertensives with low CFR, CFR was correlated with SEVR (r=0.651, P=0.001). After applying multivariate linear regression analysis, age, left ventricular mass index, Em/Am, 24-h diastolic blood pressure (BP) and SEVR turned out to be the only independent predictors of CFR (adjusted R(2)=0.718). Estimation of SEVR by using applanation tonometry may provide a reliable tool for the assessment of coronary microcirculation in essential hypertensives with indications of myocardial ischaemia and normal coronary arteries.