Tissue Doppler echocardiography (TDE) is a relatively recent addition to the diagnostic ultrasonographic examination. This is similar to routine Doppler ultrasonography to assess blood flow, but technologic features focus on lower velocity frequency shifts. Two techniques are used to assess myocardial function: pulsed TDE and color-coded TDE. A great deal of data has been generated on TDE over the last 5 years, and this review allows for only a small portion of these emerging data to be discussed. One clinical application is to assess peak systolic mitral annular velocity from the apical windows as an index of global ventricular function. The six-site average for peak systolic mitral annular velocity by the color-coded TDE method of greater than 5.4 cm/sec is predictive of an ejection fraction greater than 50% with an 88% sensitivity and a 97% specificity. An emerging application is to use pulsed-TDE to assess ventricular filling pressures. The mitral annular to inflow ratio (E/Ea) greater than 10 is predictive of a mean pulmonary capillary wedge pressure greater than 15 mm Hg with a 92% sensitivity and 80% specificity. Another application is to use peak early diastolic velocity to help differentiate constrictive pericarditis from restrictive cardiomyopathy. Peak early diastolic velocity is blunted with restrictive cardiomyopathy and preserved with constrictive pericarditis. These are just a few of the many evolving clinical applications of this new quantitative diagnostic ultrasonographic method. (C) 2000 Lippincott Williams and Wilkins, Inc.