The relation between the PC/ATP ratio and left ventricular function was examined in the Langendorff-perfused guinea-pig heart over a range of perfusion flow rates. PC/ATP ratios were determined from the 31P-nuclear magnetic resonance spectra of hearts obtained at 80.98 MHz and ventricular function estimated by measuring pressure in the left ventricle. When flow rates were increased over the range 0.6 to 6.0 ml/min, the PC/ATP ratio increased from 0.64 +/- 0.05 at 0.6 ml/min to 1.82 +/- 0.12 at 3.8 ml/min with no further increase up to a flow rate of 6.0 ml/min. Developed pressure (DP) increased with the flow rate up to 6.0 ml/min but the end diastolic pressure (EDP) also increased. The DP/EDP ratio was found to correlate closely with the PC/ATP ratio over the range of flow rates examined. The PC/ATP ratio may be a practical index of myocardial function available to the clinician when the topical magnetic resonance technique is fully developed.