Clinical and morphologic features are described in a unique subgroup of seven patients with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Five patients either died suddenly or are alive but severely symptomatic. In each patient ventricular septal hypertrophy was demonstrated on two dimensional echocardiography or at necropsy to be virtually confined to its apical one-half. However, conventional M mode echocardiography was unreliable in identifying this site of hypertrophy because it was often inaccessible to the path of the M mode beam. Apical distribution of septal hypertrophy does not constitute a separate disease entity, but rather appears to be part of the morphologic spectrum of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, as judged from two findings: (1) genetic transmission of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy in relatives of each study patient; and (2) marked disorganization of cardiac muscle cells in the left ventricular wall of the two patients studied at necropsy. Apical distribution of septal hypertrophy in these patients was associated with relatively mild T wave inversion in the electrocardiogram and characteristic angiographic appearance of the left ventricle with mid ventricular constriction and a small, often poorly contractile apical segment. These electrocardiographic and angiographic features differ from those previously described in Japanese patients with "apical hypertrophic cardiomyopathy" in whom "giant" T wave inversion and a "spade-like" appearance of the left ventricle were characteristic.