Using continuous 3-lead electrocardiographic (ECG) recordings in 19 patients undergoing elective percutaneous transluminal coronary artery angioplasty (PTCA) of the left anterior descending (LAD) artery, this study described the dynamic changes of the ST segment and the R- and S-wave amplitudes that occur during transient myocardial ischemia. The waveforms from lead V2 were quantified at 10-second intervals during the length of the balloon inflation that produced the greatest extent of ST-segment deviation. The simultaneous changes that occurred in leads aVF and V5 were also observed, but not quantified. Measurements of R- and S-wave amplitudes were performed during maximal ischemia from both the PR- and the J-ST-segment baselines to determine which of these most nearly maintained its control position during ischemia. The results indicate that the R-wave amplitude is best determined from the PR-segment baseline (p = 0.0007), while the S wave is best determined from the J-ST-segment baseline (p = 0.03). However, only a portion of the QRS changes observed during PTCA could be accounted for by the baseline shift. There were additional QRS changes during ischemia in 11 of the patients (58%) suggestive of conduction disturbances in 3 endocardial sites: left septal, right septal and left anterosuperior. It is hypothesized that these changes may represent ischemia-induced delay in conduction ("periischemic block") previously thought to occur only with myocardial infarction.