Cardiac oxygen availability and oxygen consumption were used in a theoretical study as indexes of myocardial energy supply and utilization, respectively. A detailed computer simulation of the closedloop canine cardiovascular system was utilized to study the dependence of these indexes on timing of the intraaortic balloon pump. Oxygen availability exhibited higher sensitivity to balloon timing than oxygen utilization. While maximum augmentation of oxygen availability was 58 percent, oxygen consumption could be reduced by only 13 percent. Animal experiments were initiated to validate the theoretical results. The results of both the animal experiments and the computer simulation suggested that neither balloon timing which maximizes oxygen availability nor timing which minimizes oxygen consumption correlates with timing which minimizes aortic end diastolic pressure. Thus, end diastolic pressure, presently used as a determinant of proper timing in patients undergoing cardiac assistance, was found to be a poor index of ventricular energy consumption. A performance index comprised of clinically available variables, was formulated to reflect myocardial energy balance. In this performance index, mean diastolic pressure was used to represent energy availability and peak systolic pressure was used as an index of oxygen consumption. Their relationship to oxygen balance and their dependence on timing were studied using the computer simulation of the canine cardiovascular system and animal experiments. Theoretical and experimental results suggest that such an index is capable of representing O2 balance and can be used to control phasing of the device.