The main limitation of dobutamine echocardiography (DE) is its subjective interpretation. We sought to reduce the need for expert interpretation by developing a quantitative approach to DE using myocardial Doppler velocity (MDV) in 242 patients undergoing DE. In 128 patients with a normal dobutamine echocardiogram, the normal range was designed to give a specificity of 80%. The accuracy of this range was investigated in 114 consecutive patients who underwent coronary angiography within 2 months of DE. A standard dobutamine echocardiographic protocol was used, with MDV gathered from color tissue Doppler at rest and peak stress. Wall motion at these stages was scored by experienced observers using a 16-segment model and MDV was measured off-line. Sensitivity and specificity of wall motion scoring and MDV were obtained by comparison with angiographic evidence of disease, defined as stenosis > 50% of the coronary artery diameter. The normal range in tethered segments (septum, anteroseptum, and inferior) was > or = 7 cm/s in the basal segments and > or = 5 cm/s in the midsegments. In the free wall (anterior, lateral, and posterior), the cutoff was > or = 6 cm/s in the base and > or = 4 cm/s in the midventricle. Of 114 patients undergoing angiography, 84 (75%) had significant stenoses, and the sensitivity of wall motion scoring and MDV were 88% and 83%, respectively, with specificities of 81% and 72% (p = NS). The accuracy was similar overall (86% vs 80%), as well as in each vascular territory. These data suggest that a fully quantitative interpretation of DE using site-specific normal ranges of tissue Doppler, which account for regional variations of base-apex function, is feasible and equivalent in accuracy to expert wall motion scoring.