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RR variability (HRV), an independent predictor of death following myocardial infarction, may also be related to other features of coronary artery disease. We evaluated its ability to differentiate among sedentary patients with chest pain ≥45 years of age demonstrating either normal or abnormal myocardial perfusion with rest and exercise thallium-210 tomographic imaging. The major HRV difference between 48 men and 50 women with normal perfusion was a significantly higher high frequency power in women. No significant differences in mean HRV values were found between the 57 men with abnormal perfusion scans and the 48 men with normal perfusion. In both men and women with normal perfusion scans, duration of exercise was significantly related to age. In men with abnormal scans, impaired myocardial perfusion alters the relationship between exercise duration and age, and a group of individuals with diminished HRV and low levels of physical fitness, regardless of age, can be identified. Despite these latter selective findings, we conclude that HRV is not a sensitive indicator to differentiate patients with normal and abnormal myocardial perfusion.