We studied the relationship between brain natriuretic peptide (BNP) levels and viable myocardium and ischemic myocardium, regional scar and regional contractile function. Fifty-nine patients underwent dobutamine echocardiography and magnetic resonance imaging and resting BNP levels were determined. By magnetic resonance imaging, total extent of dysfunctional myocardium correlated strongest with BNP (r = 0.60, p < 0.0001). The extent of scar, viability and ischemia also correlated. At dobutamine echocardiography, a composite of dysfunctional and ischemic myocardium was the strongest correlate of BNP (r = 0.48, p < 0.0001), with less strong correlations by global parameters. The extent of dysfunctional myocardium, rather than its nature determines BNP levels.