More and more older people exercise endurance training. Physical activity regularly exercised has been proven to exert beneficial effects on the cardiovascular system. The aim of the present study was to investigate left ventricular diastolic function by analysis of the pulmonary venous flow velocity pattern (PVFVP) in conjunction with the mitral flow velocity pattern (MFVP) in endurance veteran athletes. The study was performed in 15 trained veteran athletes (mean age 60 +/- 10) and 15 sedentary older subjects (mean age 61 +/- 7). Between the two groups there were no differences of age, body surface area and blood pressure. All subjects were without evidence of cardiovascular diseases. They underwent transthoracal pulsed Doppler echocardiography and the following parameters were measured: early (E) and late (A) peak diastolic filling velocities from mitral flow and E/A ratio; peak forward flow velocities during systole (S) and diastole (D) and peak reverse flow velocity at atrial contraction (Ar) from right upper pulmonary vein. The peak early diastolic filling and E/A ratio resulted significantly increased in the veteran athletes compared with the older sedentary subjects (E 80.0 +/- 13.6 and 62.2 +/- 8.2, respectively, p < 0.01; E/A 1.20 +/- 0.1 and 0.90 +/- 0.1, respectively, p < 0.001), whereas there were no significant differences m the PVFVP between the two groups. Heart rate at rest was significantly lower in the veteran athletes compared with sedentary older subjects (58.3 +/- 8 and 72.8 +/- 7.6, respectively, p < 0.001). These data demonstrate an improvement of left ventricle diastolic function in endurance veteran athletes (E/A ratio > 1 ) in comparison with sedentary older subjects (E/A ratio > 1). Analysis of PVFVP suggests that the left atrial contribution to left ventricular filling increases with aging without any significant differences between the two groups. Therefore, left atrial function, i.e., the main determinant of PVFVP is not likely influenced by training. In conclusion, physical activity was found to attenuate alterations in the cardiovascular system that occur in advanced age by an improvement of left ventricular diastolic filling. These changes at rest may be due to a decreased sympathetic tone, as well as to an improvement of intrinsic properties of myocardium of the endurance veteran athletes.