Abnormal systolic anterior (SAM) motion of the mitral valve without asymmetric hypertrophy of the interventricular septum was observed in 16 patients (group 1). 5 of the 16 patients had no other evidence of heart disease and the remaining 11 had a variety of cardiac disorders. Left ventricular dimensions, septal and posterior wall thickness, left ventricular ejection fraction, the mean velocity of circumferential fiber shortening, and the mean velocity of the posterior wall and septal contraction were measured by echocardiography in all patients in group 1. These measurements were compared with similar measurements in 14 patients with idiopathic hypertrophic subaortic stenosis (group 2) and in 11 normal subjects (group 3) to evaluate the role of the left ventricular contractility with particular reference to the left ventricular posterior wall motion in production of SAM. All patients with SAM (groups 1 and 2) showed significantly higher indexes of left ventricular contractility, particularly posterior wall velocity, and normalized mean posterior wall velocity, when compared to the normal subjects. The significantly higher posterior wall and the normalized mean posterior wall velocities in all patients with SAM suggest that the exaggerated systolic anterior motion of the left ventricular posterior wall plays an important role in production of SAM in the presence or absence of asymmetric septal hypertrophy.