The effect of a proximal coronary artery stenosis on transmural myocardial blood flow during exercise was studied in nine dogs with electromagnetic flowmeter probes and hydraulic occluders on the left circumflex coronary artery. Regional myocardial blood flow at rest and during treadmill exercise was estimated with radioactive microspheres 7-10 μm in diameter. Exercise studies were performed during unrestricted coronary artery inflow (control exercise) and during partial inflation of the occluder to a level which did not reduce flow at rest but which limited the increase in flow during exercise to 66 ± 6% (mild restriction) or 44 ± 3% (severe restriction) of the value during control exercise. Mean myocardial blood flow at rest was 0.94 ± 0.06 ml/min per g of myocardium and increased to 2.45 ± 0.15 ml/min per g during control exercise, with uniform distribution across the wall of the left ventricle. Flow to the subepicardial myocardium was significantly greater during exercise in the presence of a mild restriction than during control exercise, whereas flow to deeper layers of myocardium was progressively decreased below the control level. A similar pattern of redistribution of flow occurred during exercise in the presence of a severe restriction, but flow to all transmural layers was below that during mild restriction, resulting in more marked subendocardial underperfusion. Thus, exercise in the presence of stenosis resulted in transmural redistribution of myocardial blood flow with subendocardial underperfusion in proportion to the degree of restriction of coronary artery inflow.