We recorded two-dimensional echocardiograms simultaneously with the respiration measurements of 20 normal subjects and 20 patients with anterior myocardial infarction. The apical long-axis and four-chamber views were quantitatively analyzed. Measurement variability of global ejection fraction and regional ejection fraction of 100 regions was calculated during inspiration and at end-expiration for two observers. To minimize variability, the endocardial contour was redefined and traced with an improved computer-assisted tracing system. Variability (absolute mean difference) between two beats at end-expiration was significantly less than during inspiration (p less than 0.05): for ejection fraction the variability at end-expiration was 3.4% and the variability during inspiration was 6.4% (mean, 54%; SD, 7%); for regional ejection fraction the variability at end-expiration was 11.8% and the variability during inspiration was 21.5% (mean, 56%; SD, 15%). Intraobserver and interobserver variability values of one beat at end-expiration for ejection fraction were 3.1% and 3.8%, respectively, and 9.5% and 12.8%, respectively, for regional ejection fraction. Variability in patients with myocardial infarction was comparable. This method of recording respiration and analyzing left ventricular function at end-expiration, with a new contour definition and tracing system, provides a measurement variability that is considerably less than that reported in previous echocardiographic studies and that is comparable to angiographic methods.