30-50% of patients presenting with symptoms of congestive heart failure exhibit a near normal left ventricular systolic function at rest, and an impaired diastolic function of the heart may be causative. Despite a better prognosis than in systolic heart failure, frequency of hospitalizations due to diastolic heart failure is comparable with systolic heart failure. According to the criteria of Vasan and Levy diagnosis of diastolic heart failure is probable, if symptoms and signs of heart failure are accompanied in proximity (within 72 h) by objective evidence of normal left ventricular systolic function. Newer echocardiographic techniques (e. g., tissue Doppler) aid to confirm the diagnosis and to determine the severity of dysfunction and may substitute invasive demonstration of impaired left ventricular relaxation, filling, compliance or stiffness for standardized diagnosis. Incorporation of biochemical test (BNP [brain natriuretic peptide]) allows differential diagnosis and may increase the accuracy of diagnosis. Due to inconsistent diagnostic criteria, data from prospective randomized controlled trials for the treatment of diastolic heart failure are rare. Basic principles include treatment of the underlying disease, i. e., control of hypertension, diabetes, or obstructive airway disease. Angiotensin 1 antagonists (ARB) have proven effective in regression of left ventricular hypertrophy (LIFE) and may reduce morbidity, but not mortality (CHARM). Maintenance of sinus rhythm, heart rate control (beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers) and anti-ischemic therapy may be indicated in view of pathophysiological aspects. Diuretics should be administered with caution in patients with symptoms of congestion, digitalis is not useful in the treatment of isolated diastolic heart failure. The results of ongoing trials (e. g., I-Preserve) may offer new therapeutic options, and evidence-based guidelines for the so far often unsatisfactory treatment of diastolic dysfunction/heart failure are awaited.