AIM: To validate dipyridamole as a pharmacological stress test during cardiac catheterisation, allowing both functional and morphological estimation of stenosis severity. METHODS: The study encompassed 74 patients: 62 patients with significant coronary artery disease (age 61 (SD 8) years; seven women, 55 men) and 12 controls. Regional wall motion, left ventricular ejection fraction and end diastolic pressure were analysed in the resting state and after high dose intravenous dipyridamole. Patients were subdivided into four groups: group I (n = 32, 43%) had stopped all anti-ischaemic treatment for > 24 h, group II (n = 14, 19%) was under treatment, group III (n = 16, 22%) had significant coronary artery disease only in regions with regional wall motion abnormalities at rest, and group IV consisted of 12 control patients (16%) with no significant coronary artery disease (age 62 (8) years, three women, nine men). RESULTS: The sensitivity of dipyridamole testing in patients with coronary artery disease was poor. The best sensitivity was obtained with regional wall motion analysis (26/62 = 42%) and with global left ventricular ejection fraction (25/62 = 40%). Specificity was 100% for regional wall motion and 100% for ejection fraction. Calculated positive and negative predictive values for regional wall motion were 100% and 63%, respectively. CONCLUSIONS: Although safe, handy, and inexpensive, dipyridamole is not an adequate pharmacological stress test during cardiac catheterisation because of its low sensitivity.