We measured creatine kinase activity, isozyme composition, and total creatine content in biopsy samples of left ventricular myocardium from 34 adults in four groups: subjects with normal left ventricles, patients with left ventricular hypertrophy due to aortic stenosis, patients with coronary artery disease without left ventricular hypertrophy, and patients with coronary artery disease and left ventricular hypertrophy due to aortic stenosis. As compared with specimens of normal left ventricles, those from all patients with left ventricular hypertrophy had lower creatine kinase activity, higher MB creatine kinase isozyme content and activity, and lower creatine content. Specimens from the patients without left ventricular hypertrophy had normal creatine kinase activity, increased MB creatine kinase isozyme content and activity, and decreased total creatine content. The normal ventricles showed almost no MB isozyme content or activity. These data suggest that changes in the creatine kinase system occur in both pressure-overload hypertrophy and coronary artery disease. Patients with myocardial infarction who have mild or no preexisting fixed coronary artery disease or pressure-overload hypertrophy would not be expected to have elevation of serum MB creatine kinase.