To determine the clinical features of a novel heart syndrome with transient left ventricular (LV) apical ballooning, but without coronary artery stenosis, that mimics acute myocardial infarction, we performed a multicenter retrospective enrollment study. Only several case presentations have been reported with regard to this syndrome. We analyzed 88 patients (12 men and 76 women), aged 67 +/- 13 years, who fulfilled the following criteria: 1) transient LV apical ballooning, 2) no significant angiographic stenosis, and 3) no known cardiomyopathies. Thirt-eight (43%) patients had preceding aggravation of underlying disorders (cerebrovascular accident [n = 3], epilepsy [n = 3], exacerbated bronchial asthma [n = 3], acute abdomen [n = 7]) and noncardiac surgery or medical procedure (n = 11) at the onset. Twenty-four (27%) patients had emotional and physical problems (sudden accident [n = 2], death/funeral of a family member [n = 7], inexperience with exercise [n = 6], quarreling or excessive alcohol consumption [n = 5] and vigorous excitation [n = 4]). Chest symptoms (67%), electrocardiographic changes (ST elevation [90%], Q-wave formation [27%] and T-wave inversion [97%]) and elevated creatine kinase (56%) were found. After treatment of pulmonary edema (22%), cardiogenic shock (15%) and ventricular tachycardia/fibrillation (9%), 85 patients had class I New York Heart Association function on discharge. The LV ejection fraction improved from 41 +/- 11% to 64 +/- 10%. Transient intraventricular pressure gradient and provocative vasospasm were documented in 13/72 (18%) and 10/48 (21%) of the patients, respectively. During follow-up for 13 +/- 14 months, two patients showed recurrence, and one died suddenly. A novel cardiomyopathy with transient apical ballooning was reported. Emotional or physical stress might play a key role in this cardiomyopathy, but the precise etiologic basis still remains unclear.