Changes in left atrial (LA) appendage pulsed-wave Doppler velocities and changes in grades of spontaneous contrast occur immediately after electrical cardioversion of atrial fibrillation (AF) using transesophageal echocardiography (TEE). The effect of sequential ineffective electrical cardioversion attempts or chemical cardioversion on these parameters is unknown. TEE was performed in 23 patients with chronic AF. Doppler velocities and grades of spontaneous contrast were assessed before and after each cardioversion attempt until sinus rhythm was achieved. Doppler emptying and filling velocities were significantly decreased after electrical (0.39 +/- 0.14 vs 0.27 +/- 0.16 [p = 0.01] and 0.43 +/- 0. 18 vs 0.30 +/- 0.14 m/s [p = 0.01]) or chemical cardioversion to sinus rhythm (0.65 +/- 0.18 vs 0.31 +/- 0.06 [p = 0.03] and 0.64 +/- 0.22 vs 0.44 +/- 0.17 m/s [p = 0.04]). Spontaneous contrast developed in 1 of 3 patients after chemical conversion to sinus rhythm and was present in 11 of 20 patients before electrical cardioversion, developing in 4 patients and intensifying in 2 patients immediately after successful cardioversion. These phenomena were not seen after ineffective electrical or chemical cardioversion attempts. This suggests that restoration of sinus rhythm is in itself responsible for these phenomena, not the method by which sinus rhythm is achieved.