BACKGROUND: Longitudinal left ventricular (LV) contraction can be impaired in the presence of a normal LV ejection fraction (LVEF), and abnormalities have been reported in global longitudinal strain (GLS), long-axis systolic excursion (SExc), and the peak systolic velocity (s`) of mitral annular motion using tissue Doppler imaging (TDI). However, the relationships of GLS with s` and SExc have not been systematically evaluated in subjects with a normal LVEF, and whether these relationships might be affected by variations in LV end-diastolic length (LVEDL) and heart rate is unknown. METHODS: We investigated the univariate and multivariate correlations of GLS with TDI measurements of s` and SExc (both using averages of the septal and lateral walls), LVEDL and heart rate in subjects with a normal LVEF (>50%) but a low peak early diastolic mitral annular velocity (septal e`≤ 7.0 cm/s and lateral e`≤ 9 cm/s), and thus an increased risk of a future cardiac event. RESULTS: 84 subjects (age 66±8 years, 29 males) with a LVEF of 62±6% and GLS of -17.5±2.3% were studied. On univariate analysis the absolute value of GLS was positively correlated with s`(r = 0.28, p<0.01) and SExc (r = 0.50, p<0.001) and inversely correlated with heart rate (r = -0.36, p = 0.001), but was not correlated with LVEDL (r = -0.15). In multivariate models, SExc explained more of the variance in GLS than s`, and absolute GLS was not only positively correlated with SExc, but also inversely correlated with LVEDL. Heart rate was an independent inverse correlate of GLS in conjunction with LVEDL and either s` or SExc, but made a larger contribution in models which included s`. Interobserver correlations were close for s` and SExc (r = 0.89-0.93), but only moderate for GLS (r = 0.71). CONCLUSION: In subjects with a normal LVEF but reduced e`, the absolute value of GLS is more closely related to SExc than s`, and is also independently and inversely related to LVEDL and heart rate. Measurement of SExc may provide a useful additional or alternative technique to GLS for the assessment of LV long-axis function.