Phosphorus‐31 nuclear magnetic resonance (31P NMR) has been applied to study the canine heart prior to and during regional myocardial ischemia induced by partial flow reduction in the left anterior descending coronary artery (LAD). NMR data were acquired in a transmural fashion by restricting the signal to a column perpendicular to the heart wall using B0 gradients and obtaining spectroscopic spatial resolution along the third dimension using the B1 gradient and adiabatic excitation. With this approach, transmural spectra were accumulated in five separate voxels spanning the wall of the left ventricle from the epicardium to the endocardium. In the normal canine myocardium the levels of high‐energy phosphates CP and ATP were relatively constant throughout the left ventricular wall, with only minor evidence of free inorganic phosphate in any of the transmural voxels. However, during sustained partial occlusion of the LAD, significant regional differences between the epi‐ and the endocardium were noted. The data demonstrate the importance of studying cardiac bioenergetics with transmural differentiation. © 1989 Academic Press, Inc.