This study was performed to determine if a coronary artery stenosis would result in more-severe perfusion abnormalities in hypertrophied compared with normal canine hearts during exercise. Studies were performed in eight normal control dogs and in seven adult dogs in which a 67% increase in left ventricular mass wa produced by banding the ascending aorta at 9 weeks of age. Myocardial blood flow was measured by the microsphere method during treadmill exercise in the presence of a coronary artery stenosis that decreased distal coronary perfusion pressure to 55 or 42 mm Hg. At a coronary pressure of 55 mm Hg, mean myocardial blood flow was decreased by 23 +/- 5% in normal control dogs but was decreased by 53 +/- 10% in dogs with left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH) (p less than 0.05, comparing normal vs. LVH dogs). Similarly, at a coronary pressure of 42 mm Hg, mean blood flow was decreased by 53 +/- 6% below control in normal dogs but was decreased by 76 +/- 5% below control values in dogs with LVH (p less than 0.01, comparing normal vs. LVH dogs). In both groups of dogs, the stenosis caused a gradient of hypoperfusion, worsening from epicardium to endocardium. However, for each level of stenosis, subendocardial blood flow and the ratio of subendocardial to subepicardial blood flow was less in LVH than in normal canine hearts. These findings demonstrate that the presence of LVH secondary to long-term pressure overload is associated with an increased vulnerability to myocardial hypoperfusion during exercise in the presence of a coronary artery stenosis.