The effect of provocation on left ventricular (LV) outflow was studied by continuous-wave Doppler echocardiography in 93 patients with LV hypertrophy (LVH), either due to pressure overload or hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), and in 39 healthy volunteers. In 50 patients with LVH, outflow acceleration (gradients ranging from 19 to 130 mm Hg) was induced or accentuated by at least one provocative situation independently of LVH aetiology. In normal persons LV outflow remained unchanged. Calcium antagonist treatment reduced outflow acceleration. It is concluded that dynamic LV gradients are a non-specific flow abnormality in the spectrum of LVH that merits consideration.