The aim of this study was to determine whether low-dose dobutamine echocardiography (DE) could predict quantitative improvement in global left ventricular (LV) systolic function after coronary revascularization. Low-dose DE was performed in 71 consecutive patients with coronary artery disease and LV dysfunction. Successful coronary bypass surgery or angioplasty was performed in 44 patients, 37 of whom had a resting echocardiogram 1 to 3 months afterward. Group A consisted of 20 patients with contractile reserve during DE, and group B consisted of 17 patients without contractile reserve. As expected, regional wall motion score index (mean +/- SD) improved in group A (1.62 +/- 0.39 to 1.38 +/- 0.31, p < 0.01) but not group B (1.56 +/- 0.42 to 1.57 +/- 0.41, p = NS). In addition, LV ejection fraction (LVEF) improved after bypass surgery or angioplasty in group A (38 +/- 5% to 42 +/- 5%, p < 0.01), but not in group B (38 +/- 7% to 39 +/- 8%, p = NS). In group A, a significant linear correlation was observed between the number of segments with contractile reserve and the improvement in LVEF (r = 0.91, p < 0.0001). A good correlation also existed between the improvement in regional wall motion score index during dobutamine infusion and the improvement in LVEF after bypass surgery or angioplasty (r = 0.90, p < 0.0001). In conclusion, low-dose DE can be used to predict quantitative improvement in global LV systolic function after coronary bypass or angioplasty.