Mitral annular plane systolic excursion (MAPSE) has been suggested as a parameter for left ventricular (LV) function. This review describes the current clinical application and potential implications of routinely using MAPSE in patients with various cardiovascular diseases. Reduced MAPSE reflects impaired longitudinal function and thus provides complementary information to ejection fraction (EF), which represents the global result of both longitudinal and circumferential contraction. Reduced long-axis deformation results from dysfunctional or stressed longitudinal myofibres due to endo- (and potentially epi-) cardial ischaemia, fibrosis, or increased wall stress. In patients with aortic stenosis, reduced MAPSE is suggestive of subendocardial fibrosis. Moreover, reduced MAPSE could be used as a sensitive early marker of LV systolic dysfunction in hypertensive patients with normal EF, where compensatory increased circumferential deformation might mask the reduced longitudinal deformation. In addition, reduced MAPSE was associated with poor prognosis in patients with heart failure, atrial fibrillation and post-myocardial infarction as well as in patients with severe aortic stenosis undergoing aortic valve replacement. Despite of the routine use of newer and more refined echocardiographic technologies nowadays, such as strain-rate imaging, speckle-tracking imaging, and 3D echocardiography, the use of MAPSE measurement is still especially helpful to evaluate LV systolic function in case of poor sonographic windows, since good imaging quality is required for most of the modern echocardiographic techniques with the exception of tissue Doppler imaging.