Improvement in left ventricular (LV) performance after coronary artery bypass surgery remains the gold standard in myocardial viability assessment. The time-related changes, however, are not well known. This study examined the LV ejection fraction (EF) by gated blood pool imaging early (6 ± 4 days) and late (62 ± 24 days) after surgery in patients with normal preoperative EF (group 1, n = 12) and those with LV dysfunction (group 2, n = 15). There were no changes in the clinical status between the early and late studies, and all patients had normal sinus rhythm. Group 1 had no significant change in EF (preoperatively 62%, early postoperatively 64%, late postoperatively 63%; p = NS). In group 2, EF was 26% ± 8% preoperatively; 30% ± 10% early postoperatively; and 34% ± 8% late postoperatively (p < 0.05). Postoperatively there was ≥5% improvement in EF in 4 patients early and 11 patients late (p < 0.05). Patients who showed early improvement continued to do so in the late study but, additionally, 7 patients showed improvement only in the late study. Thus the timing of EF measurement after surgery is important in patients with LV dysfunction but not in patients with normal LV function. Early assessment may underestimate the prevalence and degree of recovery. © 1995.