The cardiovascular and myocardial effects of propofol and etomidate were studied in 20 geriatric patients (age 65-84 years) who underwent major upper abdominal surgery. Ten patients received propofol 1.5 mg/kg for induction of anaesthesia followed by a continuous infusion of 0.1 mg/kg/minute for maintenance; 10 patients received etomidate 18 mg for induction followed by 2.4 mg/minute for maintenance. Vecuronium was used for neuromuscular blockade. Cardiovascular dynamics were recorded in the awake state one minute after induction and 1, 5 and 30 minutes after tracheal intubation; coronary blood flow (argon wash-in) and myocardial oxygen consumption were determined in the awake state and 5 and 30 minutes after intubation. Both anaesthetics decreased systolic, diastolic and mean arterial pressures, heart rate and cardiac index to the same extent. Myocardial blood flow and oxygen consumption were also reduced in both groups due to a reduction in cardiac work. Tracheal intubation produced a marked increase in arterial pressure in the etomidate group, while haemodynamic changes were absent in the propofol group, Myocardial lactate production was not observed in either group 5 or 30 minutes after tracheal intubation.