Clinical evaluation of arterial patency in acute ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) is unreliable. We sought to identify infarction and predict infarct-related artery patency measured by the Thrombolysis In Myocardial Infarction (TIMI) score with qualitative and quantitative intravenous myocardial contrast echocardiography (MCE). Thirty-four patients with suspected STEMI underwent MCE before emergency angiography and planned angioplasty. MCE was performed with harmonic imaging and variable triggering intervals during intravenous administration of Optison. Myocardial perfusion was quantified offline, fitting an exponential function to contrast intensity at various pulsing intervals. Plateau myocardial contrast intensity (A), rate of rise (beta), and myocardial flow (Q = A x beta) were assessed in 6 segments. Qualitative assessment of perfusion defects was sensitive for the diagnosis of infarction (sensitivity 93%) and did not differ between anterior and inferior infarctions. However, qualitative assessment had only moderate specificity (50%), and perfusion defects were unrelated to TIMI flow. In patients with STEMI, quantitatively derived myocardial blood flow Q (A x beta) was significantly lower in territories subtended by an artery with impaired (TIMI 0 to 2) flow than those territories supplied by a reperfused artery with TIMI 3 flow (10.2 +/- 9.1 vs 44.3 +/- 50.4, p = 0.03). Quantitative flow was also lower in segments with impaired flow in the subtending artery compared with "normal" patients with TIMI 3 flow (42.8 +/- 36.6, p = 0.006) and all segments with TIMI 3 flow (35.3 +/- 32.9, p = 0.018). An receiver-operator characteristic curve derived cut-off Q value of <11.3, representing impaired myocardial flow, was 73% sensitive and 67% specific for TIMI <3 flow at angiography. Thus, qualitative MCE identifies patients with STEMI but provides no information regarding infarct-related artery patency, whereas quantitative MCE can predict impaired flow in patients with acute STEMI.