Background: Cardiac involvement is one of the major problems in systemic sclerosis (SSc). Subclinical cardiac involvement has a higher frequency than thought previously. In this study we investigated whether subclinical cardiac involvement can be detected by using echocardiographic strain imaging in SSc patients without pulmonary hypertension. Methods: Echocardiographic examinations were performed to 27 SSc patients and 26 healthy controls. Left ventricular strain parameters were obtained from apical views and average strain value was calculated from these measurements. Results: There were no significant differences between patients and controls regarding two-dimensional (2D), conventional Doppler and tissue Doppler velocity measurements. Strain was reduced in 6 of 12 segments of the left ventricle (LV) and in 1 of 2 segments of the right ventricle (RV). Strain rate (SR) was reduced in 2 of 12 segments of the LV and 1 of 2 segments of the RV in SSc patients as compared to controls (P < 0.05 for all). These involvements did not match any particular coronary artery distribution. More important differences were detected by average strain and SR values of the LV between patients and controls (19.78 +/- 3.00% vs 23.41 +/- 2.73%, P < 0.001; 2.01 +/- 0.41 vs 2.23 +/- 0.27/sec, P = 0.026, respectively). Furthermore, carbon monoxide diffusion capacity (DLCO) in scleroderma patients significantly correlated with LV average strain (r = 0.59; P = 0.001). Conclusion: Evaluation of ventricular function by using echocardiographic strain imaging appears to be useful to detect subclinical cardiac involvement in SSc patients with normal standard echocardiographic and tissue Doppler velocity findings.