The effects of intracoronary and intravenous infusions of amrinone were studied to distinguish the drug's direct cardiac actions from its peripheral vascular and neuroendocrine properties. Intracoronary infusions of amrinone were found to have no haemodynamic effect other than producing a slight reduction in the left ventricular ejection fraction and some suggestion of coronary vasodilatation in patients with impaired left ventricular function. They did not improve contractility, cardiac output, or filling pressures and had no significant effect on myocardial metabolism, although therapeutic concentrations of the drug were detected in coronary sinus blood. Intravenously administered amrinone reduced filling pressures and improved the cardiac index in all patients, but haemodynamic improvements were most pronounced in the patients with the worst cardiac function. These changes were accompanied by improvements in the indices of contractility only in patients in whom alterations in concentrations of free fatty acid, glycerol, and glucose suggested peripheral catecholamine release. In the patients with the best basal cardiac function intravenously administered amrinone produced a reduction in myocardial work and evidence of myocardial ischaemia, as a result of excessive reduction of coronary perfusion pressure and increased heart rate, without any appreciable increase in cardiac index. It is concluded that, at the concentrations of the drug that can be achieved in man without adverse effects, amrinone has no direct positive inotropic effect. Haemodynamic changes are predominantly the result of vasodilatation, although catecholamines may be released in some patients.