To assess the utility of a recently proposed index of left ventricular performance, the ratio of peak left ventricular systolic pressure to end-systolic volume, equilibrium radionuclide angiography was used to determine end-systolic volume and the systolic blood pressure obtained by cuff sphygmomanometer to determine peak systolic pressure. Data were analyzed at rest and during supine bicycle exercise in 15 normal subjects (Group 1), 50 patients with coronary artery disease (Group II) and 9 patients with obstructive lung disease and no evidence of coronary artery disease on clinical examination including exercise thallium imaging (Group III). In 15 subjects the correlation between the resting angiographic and radionuclide pressure/volume ratio was excellent (r = 0.929, p <0.005). Forty-seven (94 percent) of the 50 patients in Group II had a depressed pressure/volume ratio at rest or an abnormal change in this ratio during exercise, whereas only 43 (86 percent) of this group had an abnormal ejection fraction at rest or during exercise. Additionally, 3 of 15 subjects in Group I had an abnormal ejection fraction response, defined as less than 0.05 ejection fraction unit increase with exercise (specificity 80 percent), whereas all subjects in Group I had a normal increase in pressure/volume ratio (specificity 100 percent). At rest, neither index identified more patients with coronary artery disease than the other. Of the nine patients in Group III, six had an abnormal ejection fraction response to exercise, whereas only one had an abnormal pressure/volume ratio response. It is concluded that the end-systolic pressure/volume ratio is a useful index of left ventricular performance. In some patients during supine exercise stress it may be more sensitive than the ejection fraction response alone in identifying the presence of coronary artery disease.