Doppler echocardiography is one of the most useful clinical tools for the assessment of left ventricular (LV) diastolic function. Doppler indices of LV filling and pulmonary venous (PV) flow are used not only for diagnostic purposes but also for establishing prognosis and evaluating the effect of therapeutic interventions. The utility of these indices is limited, however, by the confounding effects of different physiologic variables such as LV relaxation, compliance and filling pressure. Since alterations in these variables result in changes in Doppler indices of opposite direction, it is often difficult to determine the status of a given variable when a specific Doppler filling pattern is observed. Recently, color M-mode and tissue Doppler have provided useful insights in the study of diastolic function. These new Doppler applications have been shown to provide an accurate estimate of LV relaxation and appear to be relatively insensitive to the effects of preload compensation. This review will focus on the complementary role of color M-mode and tissue Doppler echocardiography and traditional Doppler indices of LV filling and PV flow in the assessment of diastolic function.