In some hypertensive patients, echocardiographic examination does not reveal any pathologic finding in spite of a documented blood pressure elevation. In our study, we investigated the effect of preload reduction with Valsalva manoeuver on transmitral flow velocities in hypertensive patients with normal mitral flow pattern and compared the results with a healthy control group. Sixty-eight patients without evidence of coronary artery disease or heart failure (28 female, 40 male, age 50 +/-7) were divided in two groups according to their E/A ratio as those with diastolic dysfunction (n=36) and without diastolic dysfunction (DD-: n=32). DD- patients and the control group (n=20) performed Valsalva manoeuver and their pulsed-Doppler mitral flow measurements were repeated at the strain phase. During Valsalva manoeuver, E wave velocity decreased in all subjects. In the controls, peak A velocity showed a similar decline and E/A ratio remained over 1.0. However, in 72% of DD- patients A velocity did not change or increased and their EIA ratio fell below 1.0. In 47% of the patients with an E/A ratio reversal after Valsalva manoeuver, myocardial perfusion scintigraphy revealed reversible defects whereas none of the patients whose E/A ratio remained over 1.0 had perfusion defects. It is concluded that: (1) in hypertensive patients with normal E/A ratio Valsalva manoeuver should be performed in order to unmask a probable false normal finding, (2) an important percent of hypertensive individuals have left ventricular relaxation abnormalities, and (3) diastolic dysfunction develops together with a decrease in coronary reserve.