BACKGROUND: Thiopental and propofol have been widely used for general anesthesia induction, but their impacts on cardiac function have not been well described. A recent study speculated that anesthesia induction using propofol 2 mg/kg transiently reduced left ventricular (LV) contraction by analyzing tissue Doppler-derived imaging (TDI) during induction phase. The purpose of this study was to analyze and to compare the impacts of propofol- and thiopental-induction on LV function. METHODS: Twenty-four female patients with normal LV function undergoing non-cardiac surgery were randomly administered intravenous bolus thiopental (5 mg/kg, Thiopental-group, n = 12) or propofol (2 mg/kg, Propofol-group, n = 12) for anesthesia-induction. TDI of septal mitral annular velocity during systole (S'), early diastole (e') and atrial contraction (a') were determined by transthoracic echocardiography before and 1, 3, and 5 minutes after thiopental/propofol administration (T0, T1, T2, and T3, respectively). RESULTS: The bispectral index and systolic blood pressure declined significantly during anesthesia induction in both groups, however, more depressed in Thiopental-group compared with those in Propofol-group at T2 and T3 (all, p < 0.05). Among TDI two parameters demonstrated a significant inter-group difference: the S' in propofol was lower than that in Thiopental-group at T3 (p = 0.002), and a' velocities were persistently lower in Propofol-group, compared with same time values in Thiopental-group (T1, T2, and T3: p = 0.025, 0.007, and 0.009, respectively). CONCLUSION: Anesthesia induction using propofol revealed a more persistent and profound decline of LV and atrial contraction than that using thiopental. Further studies are needed to understand the clinical implication.