In this report, we review the advantages, limitations, and optimal utilization of various transthoracic and transesophageal echocardiographic (TTE and TEE) methods used for assessing mitral regurgitation (MR) as published in full-length, peer-reviewed articles since the color Doppler era began in 1984. In addition, comparison is made to other imaging modalities including catheter-based, magnetic resonance and surgical assessment of MR. Although left ventricular (LV) angiography has been traditionally used for validation of various TTE methods and is time-honored, its considerable limitations preclude it from being a real "gold standard." Based on the reviewed literature, no clear "gold standard" for the assessment of MR can be identified at present, but newly emerging TTE and TEE techniques, such as three-dimensional color Doppler, may have the potential to overcome some of the limitations of the two-dimensional methods. © 2005 "Blackwell Publishing".