Changes in strain in the line of aortic valve leaflet attachment (aortic ring) were measured during the cardiac cycle by means of an inductive technique. To that purpose coils were sutured to each commissure and base point of the aortic ring, when the animals were on a cardiopulmonary bypass. After bypass and stabilization of the hemodynamic variables changes in the aortic strain were measured at aortic pressures ranging from 4 to 20 kPa. Aortic pressure at the level of the commissure points and left ventricular pressure were measured to assess transvalvular pressure. Commissure strain appeared to depend on aortic and transvalvular pressure throughout the cardiac cycle. At an aortic pressure of 10 kPa (75 mm Hg), the derivative of commissure strain to aortic pressure was found to be 1.9 x 10(-5) +/- 1.2 x 10(-5) Pa-1 (mean +/- SD). During the ventricular ejection phase commissure strain was 0.04 +/- 0.03 higher than during ventricular filling. Maximum variations in basal strain during the cardiac cycle ranged from 0.03 to 0.15. During the ejection phase the basal segments adjoining the myocardium shortened whereas the segment close to the non-contracting anterior mitral valve leaflet lengthened. Strain between a base and a commissure point of the aortic ring were synchronous with the cardiac cycle, but no specific pattern could be found.