We evaluated diastolic filling patterns using Doppler echocardiography in 520 consecutive patients referred to our laboratory for transthoracic echocardiograms retrospectively and applied the standard guidelines used to characterize left ventricular (LV) diastolic function. Patients were classified by the Canadian consensus guidelines using transmitral and pulmonary venous Doppler echocardiographic parameters to have normal diastolic function or mild (abnormal relaxation), mild-to-moderate, moderate (pseudonormal), or severe (restrictive) diastolic dysfunction. LV diastolic dysfunction was present in 290 (56%) patients, whereas 167 (45%) patients with a normal LV ejection fraction had abnormal diastolic function. Patients with progressively more abnormal diastolic patterns had greater structural abnormalities with larger left atrial and LV size and lower LV ejection fractions. In the subset of patients with clinical evidence of congestive heart failure (99 patients), the prevalence of primary diastolic heart failure was 38% and most patients had underlying coronary or hypertensive heart disease. Standard guidelines of Doppler echocardiographic parameters allow semiquantitation of diastolic function and can be applied to studying large number of patients in a large clinical practice.