To assess left ventricular systolic and diastolic function, M-mode (n = 675) and transmitral Doppler echocardiography (n = 358) were performed in patients with stable angina pectoris and compared with 50 matched healthy controls. Left ventricular fractional shortening (FS) was significantly lower in male than in female patients (32 ± 7 vs. 35 ± 7%, p < 0.001). A history of heart failure was as frequent in men (6%) as in women (6%), but left ventricular systolic dysfunction was more frequent in men than in women (25 vs. 12%, p < 0.005). The ratio of early/late diastolic peak flow velocity (E/A ratio) was significantly lower, indicating diastolic dysfunction, in female patients with clinical heart failure than in those without (0.79 ± 0.25 vs. 1.02 ± 0.3, p < 0.05). No such difference was found in male patients. Inverse relationships were found between age and E/A ratio in both controls (r = -0.45, p < 0.001) and angina patients (r = -0.44, p < 0.001). Thus, despite similar frequency of clinical heart failure, left ventricular systolic dysfunction was more common in men than in women with stable angina.