Both dobutamine stress echocardiography (DSE) and myocardial perfusion scintigraphy are used to assess myocardial viability. Few studies have compared the data on myocardial viability and ischemia by low and peak dose DSE and myocardial perfusion imaging in the same patients. Fifty-four patients (45 men and 9 women aged 65 ± 9 years) with ischemic cardiomyopathy (mean ejection fraction 24 ± 9%) underwent rest 4-hour redistribution thallium-201 single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), low and peak dose DSE, and dobutamine sestamibi SPECT. A total of 864 segments were analyzed (16 segments/patient). Wall motion abnormality was present in 796 segments (92%), and contractile reserve during dobutamine infusion was seen in 400 of these segments (50%). Contractile reserve was seen in 331 of 509 hypokinetic segments (65%) and 69 of 287 akinetic/dyskinetic segments (24%) (p <0.001). Contractile reserve was more frequent in segments with normal thallium uptake (64%), reversible thallium defects (42%), or mild to moderate fixed thallium defects (48%) than severely fixed defects (22%) (p <0.05 each). Concordant information about viability by thallium imaging and DSE was obtained in 62% of segments. Dobutamine sestamibi ischemia was seen in 518 of 796 segments (65%) compared with 265 segments (33%) by DSE (p <0.001). Scintigraphic ischemia was noted in 126 of 195 segments (65%) demonstrating biphasic response, 129 of 205 segments (63%) showing sustained improvement, 42 of 70 segments (60%) deteriorating during dobutamine infusion, and 221 of 326 (68%) demonstrating no change (p = NS). Thus, in patients with ischemic cardiomyopathy, contractile reserve is more frequent in hypokinetic segments than akinetic/dyskinetic segments. The number of segments with normal or near-normal thallium uptake or with scintigraphic ischemia is significantly greater than the number of those capable of increasing contractile function or demonstrating an ischemic response during dobutamine echocardiography. Copyright (C) 1999 Excerpta Medica Inc.