Floppy mitral valve is usually attributed to connective-tissue degeneration. However, we have observed several instances in which both a floppy mitral valve and an abnormal mitral annulus fibrosus were present at autopsy. To study this association, we examined 900 hearts (after postmortem arteriography and fixation in distention) from autopsies of adults at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. Twenty-five (3 percent) of the hearts had a morphologically typical floppy mitral valve; in 23 of them (92 percent), the mitral annulus fibrosus showed disjunction--i.e., a separation between the atrial wall-mitral valve junction and the left ventricular attachment. In 42 other hearts (5 percent), which were from significantly younger patients (mean age [+/- SE], 60 +/- 2 years vs. 68 +/- 3; P less than 0.05), there was mitral annulus disjunction but no floppy mitral valve. Two hearts had a floppy mitral valve but no disjunction of the annulus; both of them had old infarcts of the papillary muscle. Our results show that floppy mitral valve is significantly associated with disjunction of the mitral annulus fibrosus (P less than 0.001). We suggest that floppy mitral valve develops from hypermobility of the valve apparatus, and that it is usually secondary to disjunction of the mitral annulus fibrosus, an anatomic variation in the morphology of the annulus.