To assess the usefulness of the tissue Doppler imaging variables for the evaluation of left ventricular (LV) systolic function, we compared variables obtained by the pulsed Doppler method with the LV ejection fraction (%EF) and the maximum value for the first derivative of LV pressure (peak dP/dt). We examined 65 patients, including 15 patients with noncardiac chest pain, 15 with ischemic heart disease, 15 with dilated cardiomyopathy, 10 with hypertensive heart disease, and 10 with asymmetric septal hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. The subendocardial systolic wall motion velocity patterns were recorded for LV posterior wall and ventricular septum in the parasternal LV long-axis view. The peak dP/dt was significantly lower in the hypertensive heart disease, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, and dilated cardiomyopathy groups. The peak systolic velocity was lower and the time from the electrocardiographic Q wave to the peak of the systolic wave for the posterior wall was longer in the hypertensive heart disease (5.9 +/- 0.5 cm/sec and 215 +/- 21 msec, respectively), hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (6.2 +/- 0.9 cm/sec and 217 +/- 17 msec, respectively), and dilated cardiomyopathy (5.2 +/- 0.8 cm/sec and 235 +/- 26 msec, respectively) groups than in the noncardiac chest pain (7.7 +/- 0.9 cm/sec and 187 +/- 24 msec, respectively) and the ischemic heart disease (7.6 +/- 0.8 cm/sec and 184 +/- 22 msec, respectively) groups. In all groups, the peak systolic velocity and the time from the electrocardiographic Q wave to the peak of the systolic wave for the posterior wall correlated directly and inversely, respectively, with the %EF (r = 0.59, p < 0.0001; r = -0.59, p < 0.0001) and the peak dP/dt (r = 0.75, p < 0.0001; r = -0.68, p < 0.0001). Both tissue Doppler variables for the ventricular septum did not correlate with the %EF but roughly correlated with peak dP/dt. We conclude that the systolic LV wall motion velocity parameters obtained by pulsed tissue Doppler imaging may be useful for noninvasive evaluation of global LV systolic function in patients with no regional asynergy.