The left ventricular response to dobutamine may be quantified using tissue Doppler measurement of myocardial velocity or displacement or 3-dimensional echocardiography to measure ventricular volume and ejection fraction. This study sought to explore the accuracy of these methods for predicting segmental and global responses to therapy. Standard dobutamine and 3-dimensional echocardiography were performed in 92 consecutive patients with abnormal left ventricular function at rest. Recovery of function was defined by comparison with follow-up echocardiography at rest 5 months later. Segments that showed improved regional function at follow-up showed a higher increment in peak tissue Doppler velocity with dobutamine therapy than in nonviable segments (1.2 +/- 0.4 vs 0.3 +/- 0.2 cm/s, p = 0.001). Similarly, patients who showed a >5% improvement of ejection fraction at follow-up showed a greater displacement response to dobutamine (6.9 +/- 3.2 vs 2.1 +/- 2.3 mm, p = 0.001), as well as a higher rate of ejection fraction response to dobutamine (9 +/- 3% vs 2 +/- 2%, p = 0.001). The optimal cutoff values for predicting subsequent recovery of function at rest were an increment of peak velocity >1 cm/s, >5 mm of displacement, and a >5% improvement of ejection fraction with low-dose dobutamine.