BACKGROUND: Left atrial volume index (LAVI) is increasingly recognised as a relatively load-independent marker of left ventricular (LV) filling pressures. We assessed the capacity of LAVI to predict LV diastolic dysfunction in comparison with N-terminal pro B-type natriuretic peptide (NTproBNP) in patients with suspected heart failure and a normal ejection fraction (EF). METHODS: 137 patients with suspected heart failure (HF), referred from the community for echocardiography, prospectively underwent Doppler echocardiography, LAVI and NTproBNP estimation. Raised LAVI and reduced LV systolic function were defined as >26 ml/m2 and LV EF or = 50% and LAVI >26 ml/m2 was 0.81 (p <0.0001) and for patients with LAVI > 26 ml/m2 with and without LVEF > or = 50% was 0.82 (p <0.0001). CONCLUSION: This data confirms that LAVI on resting echocardiography, specifically in patients with suspected HF and normal LV systolic function is a powerful independent predictor of LV diastolic dysfunction as predicted by serum NTproBNP. In a population with a high suspicion of diastolic heart failure, LAVI may significantly contribute to diagnostic precision.