The quantitative analysis of the mobile high-energy phosphorus metabolites in isovolumic Langendorff-perfused rabbit hearts has been performed by 31P NMR utilizing rapid pulse repetition to optimize sensitivity. Absolute quantification required reference to an external standard, determination of differential magnetization saturation and resonance peak area integration by Lorentzian lineshape analysis. Traditionally accepted hemodynamic indices (LVDP, dp/dt) and biochemical indices (lactate, pyruvate) of myocardial function were measured concomitantly with all NMR determinations. Hemodynamically and biochemically competent Langendorff-perfused rabbit hearts were found to have intracellular PCr, ATP, GPC, and Pi concentrations of 14.95 +/- 0.25, 8.08 +/- 0.13, 5.20 +/- 0.58 and 2.61 +/- 0.47 mM respectively. Intracellular pH was 7.03 +/- 0.01. Cytosolic ADP concentration was derived from a creatine kinase equilibrium model and determined to be approximately 36 microM. Reduction of perfusate flow from 20 to 2.5 ml/min demonstrated statistically significant decreases in PCr, ATP, and pH as well as an increase in Pi that correlated closely with the independent hemodynamic and biochemical indices of myocardial function. The decrease in ATP and PCr concentrations precisely matched the increase in Pi during reduced flow. These results constitute the first quantitative determination of intracellular metabolite concentrations by 31P NMR in intact rabbit myocardium under physiologic and low flow conditions.