The study was done to evaluate reliability of echocardiographic left ventricular (LV) mass. Echocardiographic estimation of LV mass is affected by several sources of variability. We assessed intrapatient reliability of LV mass measurements in 183 hypertensive patients (68% men, 65 +/- 9 years) enrolled in the Prospective Randomized Enalapril Study Evaluating Regression of Ventricular Enlargement (PRESERVE) trial after a screening echocardiogram (ECHO) showed LV hypertrophy. A second ECHO was repeated at randomization (45 +/- 25 days later). Two-dimensional (2D)-guided M-mode or 2D linear measurements of LV cavity and wall dimensions were verified by one experienced reader. Mean LV mass was similar at first and second ECHO (243 +/- 53 vs. 241 +/- 54 g) and showed high reliability as estimated by intraclass correlation coefficient (RHO) = 0.93. Within-patient 5th, 10th, 90th and 95th percentiles of between-study difference in LV mass were -32 g, -28 g, +25 g and +35 g. Mean LV mass fell less from the first to the second ECHO than expected from a formula to predict regression to the mean (2 +/- 19 vs. 17 +/- 12 g, p or = 95% or > or = 80% likelihood of being true change.