The study of left ventricular filling by Doppler echocardiography may be a non-invasive diagnostic method of detection of acute rejection of cardiac transplants. The aim of this study was to assess the value of the method for diagnosis of minimal to moderate rejection (grades 1 to 3 of the Billingham classification). A total of 466 Doppler echocardiographic studies were performed in 23 cardiac transplantation patients (21 men, mean age 49.3 +/- 10 years) with endomyocardial biopsy as the reference method for the diagnosis of rejection. Over a follow-up period of 18.5 +/- 10 months, 22.7% of biopsies showed minimal or moderate rejection. The Doppler measurements of the isovolumic relaxation period and peak early diastolic (E) velocity with respect to the mitral velocity-time integral were no different in cases of acute rejection. The only difference observed was in the mitral half-pressure time which was much shorter in cases of rejection. However, after drawing a ROC graph, the accuracy of this parameter was insufficient for diagnosing rejection irrespective of the threshold of variation considered (23% sensitivity for a 20% shortening and 36% sensitivity for a 10% shortening). The authors conclude that Doppler echocardiographic study of left ventricular filling is of limited value for the diagnosis of acute minimal or moderate rejection in cardiac transplant patients. The half-pressure time may be a useful complement to endomyocardial biopsy or when biopsy investigations are performed less frequently.