Inactivity is associated with endothelial dysfunction and the development of cardiovascular disease. Exercise training has a favourable effect in the management of hypertension, heart failure and ischaemic heart disease. These beneficial effects are probably mediated through improvements of vascular function and, in this issue of Clinical Science, Hägg and co-authors propose a coronary artery effect. The use of a Doppler technique for non-invasive assessment of coronary flow reserve in a small animal model is an exciting aspect of this study. If feasible in the hands of other investigators, the availability of sequential coronary flow measurements in animal models may help improve our understanding of the mechanisms of disorders of the coronary circulation.