In order to evaluate hemodynamic predictors of myocardial oxygen consumption (MVO2), 27 normotensive men with angina pectoris were studied at rest and during a steady state at sympton-tolerated maximal exercise (STME). Myocardial blood flow (MBF) was measured by the nitrous oxide method using gas chromatography. MBF increased by 71% from a resting value of 57.4 +/- 10.2 to 98.3 +/- 15.6 ml/100 g LV/min (P less than 0.001) during STME while MVO2 increased by 81% from a resting value of 6.7 +/- 1.3 to 12.1 +/- 2.8 ml O2/100 g LV/min (P less than 0.001). MVO2 correlated well with heart rate (HR) (r = 0.79), with HR x blood pressure (BP) (r = 0.83), and, adding end-diastolic pressure and peak LV dp/dt as independent variables, slightly improved this correlation (r = .86). Including the ejection period (tension-time index) did not improve the correlation (r = 0.80). Thus, HR and HR x BP, both easily measured hemodynamic variables, are good predictors of MVO2 during exercise in normotensive patients with ischemic heart disease. Including variables reflecting the contractile state of the heart and ventricular volume may further improve the predictability.