A number of recent community-based epidemiologic studies suggest that 40% to 50% of the cases of heart failure have preserved left ventricular systolic function. Although diastolic heart failure is often not well clinically recognized, it is associated with marked increases in morbidity and all-cause mortality. Doppler echocardiography has emerged as the principal clinical tool for the assessment of left ventricular diastolic function. Doppler mitral inflow velocity-derived variables remain the cornerstone of the evaluation of diastolic function. Pulmonary venous Doppler flow indices and mitral inflow measurements with Valsalva's maneuver are important adjuncts for differentiating normal and pseudonormal mitral inflow patterns. Unfortunately, these Doppler flow variables are significantly influenced by loading conditions and, therefore, the results from these standard techniques can be inconclusive. Recently, color M-mode and Doppler tissue imaging have emerged as new modalities that are less affected by preload and, thus, provide a strong complementary role in the assessment of diastolic function. This review will discuss the diastolic properties of the left ventricle, Doppler echocardiographic evaluation, and grading of diastolic dysfunction.