Although the use of left ventricular assist devices (LVADs) as a bridge-to-recovery (BTR) has shown promise, clinical success has been limited due to the lack of understanding the timing of implantation, acute/chronic device setting, and explantation. This study investigated the effective ventricular unloading at different heart conditions by using a mock circulatory system (MCS) to provide a tool for pump parameter adjustments. We tested the hypothesis that effective unloading by LVAD at a given speed varies with the stage of heart failure. By using a MCS, systematic depression of cardiac performance was obtained. Five different stages of heart failure from control were achieved by adjusting the pneumatic systolic/diastolic pressure, filling pressure, and systemic resistance. The Heart Mate II® (Thoratec Corp., Pleasanton, CA) was used for volumetric and pressure unloading at different heart conditions over a given LVAD speed. The effective unloading at a given LVAD speed was greater in more depressed heart condition. The rate of unloading over LVAD speed was also greater in more depressed heart condition. In conclusion, to get continuous and optimal cardiac recovery, timely increase in LVAD speed over a period of support is needed while avoiding the akinesis of aortic valve.