To determine whether progressive regional myocardial dysfunction occurs after repetitive episodes of exercise-induced ischemia, 10 dogs were instrumented with ultrasonic microcrystals for determination of regional myocardial wall thickening, circumflex artery electromagnetic flow probes, and hydraulic coronary artery occluders. Dogs performed treadmill exercise in the presence of a coronary artery stenosis, which limited coronary blood flow to control levels. Dogs performed a single 10-min exercise period one day and three identical runs separated by 1-h rest periods on the alternate day. At rest before the first exercise period, circumflex wall thickening was 18.8 +/- 6.7% and increased to 25.5 +/- 10.6% during exercise before the application of coronary stenosis. On the day that three exercise trials were performed, circumflex systolic wall thickening at rest before the third exercise period (9.7 +/- 4.0%) and during exercise without coronary stenosis (17.3 +/- 7.3%) were both significantly lower than during the first exercise period (P less than 0.0125). During exercise with stenosis, circumflex systolic wall thickening fell to 4.6 +/- 4.7% during a single run, and 5.0 +/- 2.0% during the third of three consecutive runs. Wall thickening was significantly lower 2 h after the third consecutive run (9.1 +/- 2.4%) than 2 h after a single period of exercise-induced ischemia (14.8 +/- 7.6%; P 0.0125). Transmural myocardial blood flow to circumflex myocardium during the third period of exercise-induced ischemia (0.93 +/- 0.47 ml.min-1.g-1) was not different than during the single period of exercise (0.84 +/- 0.47 ml.min-1.g-1). It is concluded that repetitive episodes of exercise-induced ischemia result in cumulative postexercise regional myocardial dysfunction.