Noninvasive radionuclide cineangiography permits the assessment of global and regional left ventricular function during intense exercise. To assess the sensitivity of the technique in detecting coronary artery disease, we studied 63 consecutive patients with ≥ 50% stenosis of at least one coronary artery. Fiftynine (94%) had regional dysfunction with exercise; 56 (89%) developed lower-than-normal ejection fractions during exercise. When both regional dysfunction and subnormal ejection fractions are considered together, the sensitivity was 95%. Each patient also underwent exercise electrocardiography to either angina or 85% of predicted maximal heart rate. Of the 42 patients who developed angina during exercise electrocardiography, 26 (62%) developed ≥1 mm ST-segment depression; four additional patients (10%) had Q waves diagnostic of previous myocardial infarction. In contrast, 39 (93%, p < 0.001) developed regional dysfunction during radionuclide study, and one additional patient developed a subnormal ejection fraction without regional dysfunction. To assess specificity, we studied 21 consecutive patients with chest pain who had normal coronary arteries. None developed regional dysfunction; ejection fraction increased in all to levels within the range previously defined as normal. The predictive accuracy in this symptomatic population was 100%. We conclude that radionuclide cineangiography is highly sensitive (more so than exercise electrocardiography), predictive and specific in detecting patients with coronary artery disease.