Although the responsible mechanisms are not yet fully known, obstructive sleep apnea is associated with an increased risk for cardiovascular disease and events. The aorta is not only a conduit delivering blood to the tissues but is also an important modulator of the entire cardiovascular system, its elastic properties also affecting left ventricular function and coronary blood flow. The aim of this study was to determine left ventricular diastolic function and aortic elastic properties in patients with obstructive sleep apnea syndrome. Fourteen male patients with obstructive sleep apnea and 14 age- and body mass index-matched healthy male controls took part in the study as a control group. All subjects underwent echocardiographic examination; left ventricular cavity dimension, standard and tissue Doppler parameters, and aortic diameter (3cm above aortic valve) at systole and diastole were measured. While the aortic stiffness index in patients with obstructive sleep apnea was significantly higher than that of the control group (4.5 +/- 0.3 vs 2.1 +/- 0.1, P = 0.001), the aortic distensibility index was found to be lower in this group compared with controls (2.4 +/- 1.2 vs 3.9 +/- 1.5cm(2)dyne(-1)10(-6) P = 0.009). Furthermore, peak velocity of myocardial systolic wave and peak velocities of myocardial diastolic waves in sleep apnea patients were lower than in controls. There was an association between aortic stiffness and the apnea hypopnea index (coefficient = 0.49, P = 0.002). We also found an inverse correlation between peak velocity of myocardial diastolic wave and aortic stiffness (coefficient = -0.43, P = 0.003), using multiple linear regression. Increased aortic stiffness that is associated with the severity of disease in patients with obstructive sleep apnea may lead to diastolic dysfunction of the left ventricle.