Chronic rapid ventricular pacing (CRVP) in many experimental models induces ventricular dilatation, reduced ejection fraction, and symptomatic congestive heart failure. We have investigated transmural mechanical function in the left ventricular (LV) wall of five Hanford miniature swine before and after CRVP-induced failure. Three columns of radiopaque markers 1 mm in diameter were implanted in the anterior LV wall through a median sternotomy. A pair of LV pacing wires were sutured into the myocardium, a pneumatic cuff was placed around the inferior vena cava (IVC), and two fluid-filled Silastic catheters were implanted into the LV apex. Two weeks after surgery, the pigs were suspended awake in a sling, and markers were tracked with biplane cineradiography. The hearts were paced for 3 wk (225-240 beats/min), and the study was repeated with the pacemaker off. Saline infusion and IVC occlusion were used to vary LV end-diastolic pressure (EDP) so control-to-failure comparisons could be made at matched LV EDPs. End-systolic strains in the circumferential (E11), longitudinal (E22), and transmural (E33) directions were quantified using finite element methods. There was a significant reduction in E11 and E33 for the subendocardium: in E11, from -0.27 to -0.18; in E33, from 0.83 to 0.46. There were no significant changes in subendocardial E22 or in any of the outer wall normal strains. These results indicate that CRVP causes substantial reduction of subendocardial, but not subepicardial, function; taken together with previous data indicating subendocardial hypoperfusion, these results support the contention that an imbalance between blood flow and oxygen demand plays a role in the etiology of heart failure in this model.