OBJECTIVES: Using two-dimensional wall thickening (WT) (expressed as percentage) and strain analysis, regional contractile myocardial function was quantified and compared in 13 control subjects and 13 patients with a first myocardial infarction (MI). The findings in the patient group were related to global ventricular function and infarct size. BACKGROUND: In patients with coronary artery disease, regions with dysfunctional myocardium cannot be differentiated easily from regions with normal function by planar WT analysis. Physiologic factors, in combination with limitations of conventional imaging techniques, affect the calculation of WT. Quantitative assessment of contractile function by magnetic resonance (MR) tissue tagging and strain analysis may be less affected by these factors. METHODS: Two-dimensional regional WT and strain were calculated in three short-axis MR cine and tagged images, respectively. Left ventricular volumes and ejection fraction (EF) were obtained from a series of contiguous short-axis cine images. RESULTS: In patients with infarct-related ventricles, WT and strain analysis both revealed reduced myocardial function, as compared with control subjects (p < 0.005 and p < 0.001, respectively). However, WT analysis yielded no significant regional differences in function between infarct-related and remote myocardium (p = 0.064), whereas strain analysis did (p < 0.005). For detecting dysfunctional myocardium of electrocardiographically and angiographically defined infarct areas, WT analysis had a sensitivity of 69% and a specificity of 92%, whereas strain analysis demonstrated a sensitivity of 92% and a specificity of 99%. The EF correlated with WT (r = 0.76, p < 0.005) and strain (r = 0.89, p < 0.001). CONCLUSIONS: Two-dimensional strain analysis is more accurate than planar WT analysis in discriminating dysfunctional from functional myocardium, and it provides a strong correlation between regional myocardial and global ventricular function.