To test the clinical significance of technetium-99m teboroxime regional myocardial clearance in the detection of coronary artery disease, 25 patients underwent dynamic planar or single-photon emission tomographic (SPET) myocardial imaging with 99mTc-teboroxime after exercise and again 2 h later at rest. All patients underwent both thallium-201 exercise and redistribution SPET and coronary arteriography. The early phases of exercise 99mTc-teboroxime myocardial clearance determined by dynamic planar imaging showed a significant difference between normal and post-stenotic myocardial regions (clearance rate constant k: 0.047 +/- 0.005 min-1 versus 0.034 +/- 0.003 min-1, P < 0.001). Reflecting this "differential clearance" between myocardial regions, an early redistribution-like phenomenon was observed in a significant number of myocardial segments by comparing serially acquired post-exercise 99mTc-teboroxime SPET images. These results indicated that the analysis of 99mTc-teboroxime myocardial clearance was of potential use in the detection of coronary artery disease, yielding additional information to that provided by the tracer distribution analysis. Although the early redistribution-like phenomenon of 99mTc-teboroxime could be the source of underestimation of ischaemia if acquisition of the initial post-exercise image were delayed, it could also prove useful in the early differentiation of ischaemia from scar because when the phenomenon was observed in delayed post-exercise images, the rest study could be omitted under some circumstances.