The Starling relationship in the normal human ventricle may be different than usually portrayed. In normal, resting, supine man the ventricular function curve is at its peak at a left ventricular enddiastolic pressure of approximately 10 mm Hg. Below this point is a strong direct relation between filling pressure and stroke work, while at higher flling pressures, a plateau occurs. Limitation of ventricular response is related to a sharply rising ventricular pressure-volume curve at a normal level of filling pressure. Thus, in the supine position, the normal heart is not on the active portion of the ventricular function curve, but is in a unique position in which cardiac output is probably controlled by factors other than ventricular filling pressure. In ventricular failure, the peak of the ventricular function curve is displaced to a higher level.