TDI is a new echocardiographic technique that calculates and displays color-coded myocardial velocity on-line. To determine the feasibility of endocardial velocity throughout the cardiac cycle as a means to quantify regional function, 20 normal subjects aged 30 +/- 5 years and 12 patients with heart disease aged 62 +/- 17 years were studied with a prototype TDI system. TDI M-mode images were acquired by using a multicolored velocity map (display range, -30 to 30 mm/sec; temporal resolution, 90 Hz). Color-coded velocity data were then converted to numeric values off-line at 50 msec intervals. Posterior wall velocities throughout the cardiac cycle by TDI were closely correlated with velocity calculations from the first derivative of routine digitized M-mode tracings (group mean r = 0.88 +/- 0.03, SEE = 7.0 +/- 1.1 mm/sec). Anteroseptal TDI color-coded systolic velocity occurred 164 +/- 84 msec from the onset of the electrocardiographic QRS compared with 203 +/- 33 msec in the posterior wall (P < 0.05) in normal subjects, consistent with normal electrical activation. Significant differences in systolic and diastolic posterior wall TDI velocity data were observed in patients with hypokinetic or akinetic segments assessed by independent routine study when compared with normal controls. Calculated systolic and early diastolic posterior wall TDI indexes correlated significantly with percentage of wall thickening. Of abnormal anteroseptal segments, TDI systolic time velocity integrals were significantly different than normal and correlated with percentage of wall thickening. TDI has potential to quantitatively assess regional left ventricular function.