The acute hemodynamic responses to anterior and posterior wall ischemia were examined at different afterloads in 30 open-chest anaesthetized dogs. Regional and global left ventricular responses to acute ischemia were also measured before and following bilateral cervical vagotomy in 18 dogs. As the preocclusion afterload (mean aortic pressure) was progressively raised with intravenous methoxamine, a significant decrease in stroke volume occurred following circumflex artery occlusion, whereas no change in stroke volume occurred following occlusion of the left anterior descending artery. Bilateral cervical vagotomy completely inhibited the decrease in stroke volume during circumflex occlusion at high afterload. Vagotomy had no effect on the hemodynamic response to acute anterior wall ischemia. Reversible cold vagal block in paced hearts at high afterload unmasked compensatory inotropy in the nonischemic anterior myocardial segment during circumflex occlusion. Restoring vagal tone by rewarming attenuated the fractional shortening of the nonischemic segment. The results indicate that a relationship exists between myocardial wall tension and reflex cardioinhibition during acute posterior wall but not anterior wall ischemia in dogs.