A myocyte system that senses and responds to mechanical inputs might be activated by any number of features of the time-varying length or force signals experienced by the myocytes. We therefore characterized left ventricular volume and: wall stress signals during early volume overload with high spatial and temporal resolution. Left ventricular pressure and volume were measured in open-chest isoflurane-anesthetized male Sprague-Dawley rats 4 and 7 days after surgical creation of an infrarenal arteriovenous fistula or sham operation. Mean wall stresses were calculated by using a simple thick-walled ellipsoidal model. Consistent with previous reports, this surgical model produced a 66% increase in cardiac output and a 10% increase in left ventricular mass by day 7. A number of features of the time-varying volume signal (maximum, mean, amplitude, rates of rise and fall) were significantly altered during early volume overload, whereas many other proposed hypertrophic stimuli, including peak systolic wall stress and diastolic strain, were not. Treating hemodynamic variables more generally as time-varying signals allowed us to identify a wider range of candidate mechanical stimuli for hypertrophy (including some not previously proposed in the literature) than focusing on standard time points in the cardiac cycle. We conclude that features of the time-varying ventricular volume signal and related local deformations may drive hypertrophy during volume overload and propose that those features of the volume signal that also change during pressure overload might be the most interesting candidates for further exploration.