The regional left ventricular distensibility and its relations with the dynamic left ventricular chamber compliance were studied in 11 normal subjects and in 30 patients with coronary artery disease. The regional peak filling rates were calculated from angiographic data in eight ventricular segments and used as an index of regional distensibility. A depressed global peak filling rate was observed in only 30% of the patients with angina pectoris, but regional abnormalities in peak filling rate were detected in 75% of these patients. A relation between alterations in regional peak filling rate and left ventricular compliance was evident in these patients. Despite comparable end diastolic volume and pressure (10 ± 2 mm Hg vs. 10 ± 3 in normal subjects; not significant), the patients with angina pectoris, whose ventricle had at least three segments with a reduced peak filling rate, had indeed significant increases in mean left ventricular filling pressure (14 ± 4 mm Hg vs. 8 ± 3 in normal subjects; p < 0.01) and upward shifts of their left ventricular pressure-volume relation during rapid filling. Conversely, an increase in regional peak filling rate produced by intravenous administration of the calcium antagonist nicardipine in a subgroup of patients with poor diastolic function was accompanied by a reduction in mean left ventricular filling pressure and by a downward shift of the early diastolic left ventricular pressure-volume relation. It is concluded that even in the absence of clinical signs of ischemia and of a previous myocardial infarction, large areas with impaired distensibility are frequently present in patients with angina pectoris. The presence of such areas may shift upward the pressure-volume relation and increase the mean left ventricular filling pressure independently of pericardial effect.