The effect of hypothyroidism on left ventricular function at rest and during exercise was studied in nine patients without demonstrable cardiovascular disease who had had total thyroidectomy and ablative radioiodine treatment for thyroid cancer. Radionuclide ventriculography and simultaneous right heart catheterisation were performed while the patients were hypothyroid two weeks after stopping triiodothyronine treatment (to permit routine screening for metastases) and while they were euthyroid on thyroxine replacement treatment. When the patients were hypothyroid, cardiac output, stroke volume, and end diastolic volume at rest were all lower and peripheral resistance was higher than when they were euthyroid. Pulmonary capillary wedge pressure, right atrial pressure, heart rate, left ventricular ejection fraction, and the systolic pressure:volume relation of the left ventricle, which was used as an estimate of the contractile state, were not significantly different when the patients were hypothyroid or euthyroid. During exercise, heart rate, cardiac output, end diastolic volume, and stroke volume were higher when the patients were euthyroid than when they were hypothyroid. Again, pulmonary capillary wedge pressure, ejection fraction, and the systolic pressure:volume relation were similar in both thyroid states. The data suggest that the alterations in cardiac performance seen in short term hypothyroidism are primarily related to changes in loading conditions and exercise heart rate; they do not suggest that acute thyroid hormone deficiency has a major effect on the contractile properties of the myocardium.