This study examined the relation between the kinetics of thallium-201 and coronary stenosis in 30 patients with one vessel coronary artery disease; 25 patients had no visible collateral vessels. The myocardial thallium concentration in the postexercise images and percent washout were determined in the distribution of the diseased vessel and a normal vessel, and each was expressed as a ratio. Coronary stenosis was assessed as minimal diameter stenosis, minimal area stenosis and percent diameter stenosis. The correlations between the myocardial concentration ratio or washout ratio and the descriptors of coronary stenosis improved when the patients with collateral vessels were excluded. There were significant correlations between the myocardial thallium concentration ratio and minimal diameter stenosis (r = 0.73, p < 0.001), minimal area stenosis (r = 0.72, p < 0.001) and, to a lesser degree, percent diameter stenosis (r = -0.51, p < 0.01). Similarly, there were significant correlations between washout ratio and minimal diameter stenosis (r = 0.50, p < 0.01) and minimal area stenosis (r = 0.45, p < 0.02) but not percent diameter stenosis (r = 0.37, p = 0.06). Thus, variation in thallium kinetics in relation to the severity of coronary stenosis can be demonstrated with conventional imaging in patients with one vessel disease. The myocardial thallium concentration and washout are physiologic expressions of the severity of perfusion deficit and are dependent on collateral flow. The myocardial thallium concentration ratio and washout ratio correlate better with minimal diameter and area stenosis than with percent diameter stenosis. © 1989.