A canine model was developed to estimate left ventricular wall stress, volumes, contractility, and high-energy phosphate metabolites without the need for major surgery. A percutaneously inserted catheter-tip manometer was used to record high-fidelity left ventricular pressure while gradient echo cinemagnetic resonance (cine-MR) imaging alternated with in vivo 31P- nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy during pharmacological maneuvers to increase cardiac work. Left ventricular circumferential wall stress, volumes, maximum rate of pressure development (dP/dt(max)), and the ratio of phosphocreatine (PCr) to γ-ATP (PCr/γ-ATP) were recorded sequentially during control 1, dobutamine infusion, control 2, angiotensin infusion, and control 3 in five anesthetized, closed-chest dogs. PCr/γ-ATP did not change significantly during controls 1-3, angiotensin, and dobutamine infusion. Left ventricular peak positive dP/dt (+dP/dt(max)) increased significantly during dobutamine (3,338 ± 831 mmHg/s, P < 0.001) but was unchanged during angiotensin (1,818 ± 317 mmHg/s) and controls 1-3 (1,915 ± 434 vs. 1,808 ± 478 vs. 1,859 ± 414 mmHg/s). However, dobutamine decreased the total systolic stress integral (area under the wall stress-time relationship) and end-diastolic and end-systolic volumes, whereas angiotensin increased these parameters compared with control conditions. The unchanged PCr/γ-ATP is in accord with the results from other open-chest surface coil 31P-NMR experiments in the normal heart. Our assessment of left ventricular functional parameters provides new information that complements these more invasive studies in which heart rate-pressure product was measured during increases in cardiac work. In the absence of a direct measurement of oxygen uptake it is possible, in this preparation, to relate the major hemodynamic determinants of oxygen demand to the adequacy of oxygen delivery (PCr/γ- ATP). These measurements can be performed repeatedly without ever disturbing the pericardium or thorax.