Biplane left ventricular angiography was performed in 22 patients with isolated obstructive disease of the anterior descending branch of the left coronary artery and with an anterior aneurysm following transmural myocardial infarction. Six patients were restudied between 6 and 10 months after aneurysmectomy. Left ventricular reserve was estimated by analysis of a spontaneous postextrasystolic beat. Using angiographic techniques a contractile section, a transitional section, and a noncontractile section were identified. From the surgical patients the excised aneurysm and a transmural needle biopsy of the transitional section were investigated by light microscopy. With increasing volumes of noncontractile and transitional sections, total end-diastolic volume (r = 0.81, P less than 0.001) and end-systolic volume (r = 0.94, P less than 0.001) increased linearly, while the ejection fraction decreased (r = 0.70, P less than 0.001). No relation was found between the combined volumes of the noncontractile and transitional sections on the one hand, and the end-diastolic volume, the end-systolic volume, or the ejection fraction of the contractile section on the other hand. After aneurysmectomy a significant decrease was found in end-diastolic volume (194 to 133 ml/m2, P less than 0.001) and end-systolic volume (124 to 83 ml/m2, P less than 0.001) but no change occurred in ejection fraction (35 to 37%) and left ventricular end-diastolic pressure (23 to 25 mmHg). Surgical resection included part of the transitional section, which before surgery had an average ejection fraction of 27 per cent during a normal beat, rising to 41 per cent in a postextrasystolic beat. The transitional section after surgery now formed a large akinetic area of the anterior wall. We conclude that aneurysmectomy in isolated left anterior descending artery disease with anterior aneurysm fails to improve left ventricular function because the effect of reduction of left ventricular volumes is offset by the destruction of contractile behaviour in the transitional section.