Thirty patients with clinically inactive systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) were examined by Doppler echocardiography to investigate the diastolic properties of the left ventricle. Twelve age-matched healthy women were also examined as controls. The pulsed wave transmitral Doppler flow velocity curves were digitized and curves of their first derivatives were obtained. Isovolumic relaxation time (IRT), acceleration and deceleration half-time of the rapid filling wave (E) and atrial contraction wave (A) (AHTe, DHTe, AHTa, DHTa), A/E, peak dE/dt, -peak dE/dt, peak dA/dt, -peak dA/dt were measured. In the SLE group, IRT and DHTe were prolonged, A, A/E, peak dA/dt and -peak dA/dt were increased compared with the control group. We conclude that patients with SLE have abnormal left ventricular diastolic function, even though their disease is clinically inactive.