In view of the variables that obscure the pathogenesis of cardiomyopathy, a study was undertaken in mongrel dogs fed ethanol as 36% of calories for up to 22 mo. Both the experimental and control groups maintained body weight, hematocrit, plasma vitamin, and protein levels. Left ventricular function was evaluated in the intact anesthetized dog using indicator dilution for end-diastolic and stroke volume determinations. During increased afterload with angiotensin, the ethanol group exhibited a larger rise of end-diastolic pressure (P<0.01), whereas end-diastolic and stroke volume responses were significantly less than in controls. Preload increments with saline elicited a significantly higher end-diastolic pressure rise in the ethanol group (P<0.01). No hypertrophy, inflammation, or fibrosis was present and it was postulated that the enhanced diastolic stiffness was related to accumulation of Alcian Blue-positive material in the ventricular interstitium.