Pharmacologic stress testing may be used in the diagnosis of coronary artery disease and risk assessment. The stress agents may be divided into those that produce primary coronary vasodilation (dipyridamole, adenosine, or adenosine triphosphate) and those that produce secondary vasodilation as a result of increase in myocardial oxygen demand (dobutamine and arbutamine). Assessment of myocardial perfusion and function can be made by single-photon imaging, positron emission tomography, two-dimensional echocardiography, magnetic resonance imaging, and contrast angiography. For assessment of myocardial perfusion, either thallium 201-labeled or technetium-labeled perfusion imaging agents may be used. This article will focus on the mechanisms of action, hemodynamic responses, and results of pharmacologic imaging in detecting coronary artery disease. The use of pharmacologic stress testing in risk assessment will be discussed in a separate article. © 1994 American Society of Nuclear Cardiology.