BACKGROUND Recently, it was shown that B-type natriuretic peptide levels are increased in patients with acute coronary syndromes. AIMS To assess the relation between B-type natriuretic peptide and ischemia in patients with stable and unstable angina pectoris with normal left ventricular function in relation to the extent of ischemia and response to revascularization. METHODS Fifty-nine consecutive patients were enrolled in the study, patients were divided into two groups: stable angina patients (group I, n=18), and unstable coronary patients (group II, n=41). Baseline characteristics were compared with 15 age-matched and sex-matched participants. B-type natriuretic peptide levels were measured at baseline and 3, 7 and 90 days after coronary revascularization in group I and II. RESULTS Patients with unstable angina pectoris had increased B-type natriuretic peptide levels compared with stable angina pectoris patients (B-type natriuretic peptide levels: controls 15.5+/-13 pg/ml, stable angina pectoris group 28.4+/-19 pg/ml, unstable angina pectoris group 104+/-81 pg/ml; P<0.01). A relationship between the number of affected coronary vessels and B-type natriuretic peptide was assessed (one-vessel 29.9+/-21 pg/ml, two-vessel 93.8+/-87 pg/ml, three-vessel 119+/-88 pg/ml; P<0.01). After revascularization, B-type natriuretic peptide levels decreased in groups I and II (25+/-20 vs. 39+/-28 pg/ml) and were similar after 90 days in percutaneous transluminal coronary angiograghy and in coronary artery bypass grafting groups (percutaneous transluminal coronary angiography 26+/-22 pg/ml, coronary artery bypass grafting 36+/-26 pg/ml; NS). CONCLUSIONS B-type natriuretic peptide levels increase in unstable angina pectoris patients and are linked to the extent of coronary disease in patients with normal left ventricular systolic function, and returned to baseline level after surgical or catheter revascularization.