Although acoustic properties of the myocardium are different between patients with cardiomyopathy and normal subjects, the frequency of the abnormal properties in patients with cardiomyopathy is unknown. We assessed the frequency of abnormal acoustic properties of the myocardium detectable with integrated backscatter in patients with cardiomyopathy and attempted more sensitive ultrasonic tissue characterization by combining dobutamine stress testing in patients with cardiomyopathy with apparently normal acoustic properties of the myocardium at rest. The magnitude of cyclic variation of integrated backscatter and calibrated myocardial integrated backscatter at end diastole were measured in 36 normal subjects and 40 patients with dilated cardiomyopathy. Either one of the integrated backscatter parameters was abnormal in 30 of 40 patients with cardiomyopathy. Dobutamine stress ultrasonic tissue characterization was performed in 10 patients with cardiomyopathy with normal values of both integrated backscatter parameters and 10 normal subjects. Calibrated myocardial integrated backscatter did not change during dobutamine infusion in any subject. The magnitude of cyclic variation in integrated backscatter increased in normal subjects but did not change in patients with cardiomyopathy despite a comparative associated increase in the systolic wall thickening during dobutamine infusion. Abnormal acoustic properties are detectable at rest with myocardial integrated backscatter about in three quarters of patients with cardiomyopathy. A combination of dobutamine stress testing would provide more sensitive ultrasonic myocardial tissue characterization and may make it possible to detect subtle changes in the acoustic properties of the myocardium in patients with dilated cardiomyopathy. Therefore dobutamine stress ultrasonic tissue characterization may detect mild dilated cardiomyopathy.