BACKGROUND: Previous clinical studies using invasive and noninvasive methods have shown handgrip-induced diastolic abnormalities in patients with coronary artery disease (CAD). HYPOTHESIS: The study was undertaken to determine the utility of Doppler echo- and pressocardiography during hand-grip in discriminating patients with coronary artery disease (CAD) and in those with normal coronary arteries. METHODS: Both methods were obtained in 96 patients with suspected CAD within 24 h before coronary angiography. An abnormal handgrip-Doppler was defined by an early (E) to late (A) transmitral flow velocities ratio (E/A) < 1 during handgrip and a positive handgrip pressocardiographic test (HAT) by an abnormal increase in the A wave/total excursion or prolongation of the absolute or relative (heart-rate corrected) total relaxation time during isometric exercise. RESULTS: Of the 96 patients studied, 23 had normal coronary arteries and 73 showed CAD. In patients with normal coronary arteries, handgrip-Doppler showed an abnormal average E/A at rest and during handgrip, whereas all variables of HAT were within normal limits. In patients with CAD, handgrip-Doppler showed only a moderate handgrip-induced increase in average A (+ 19%, p < 0.001), whereas HAT showed a significant (p < 0.001) increase in mean A wave/total excursion (+ 60%) and decrease in the relative total relaxation time (- 17%). Furthermore, handgrip-Doppler and HAT were abnormal in 15 of 23 (65%, specificity 35%) and the HAT in 5 of 23 (22%, specificity 78%) patients with normal coronary arteries, as well as in 57 of 73 (sensitivity 78%) and 69 of 73 (95%) patients with CAD. CONCLUSIONS: Our study demonstrates that these noninvasive stress tests can become a useful new diagnostic modality for detecting patients with unknown or suspected CAD.