To determine the additional diagnostic value of biplane transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) in patients undergoing mitral valve surgery, we studied 48 patients with severe mitral regurgitation. Transesophageal echocardiographic video recordings were reorganized in separate transverse and longitudinal sections to allow independent evaluation. Mechanism of mitral regurgitation and anatomic abnormalities of the mitral valve were assessed by all 3 transesophageal echocardiographic modalities and were related to surgical findings. Biplane TEE detected increased leaflet mobility with a sensitivity of 91% and a specificity of 84%, and restricted leaflet mobility with a sensitivity of 100% and a specificity of 97%. Biplane TEE was accurate in the diagnosis of most of the anatomic abnormalities associated with these mechanisms. However, the sensitivity for detecting subvalvular abnormalities (including papillary muscle abnormalities) was poor, and measurement of the annular diameter had a poor correlation with annular dilatation. Although the yield of biplane TEE was better than either transverse or longitudinal TEE alone, the differences did not reach statistical significance, because of the size of the patient group. The surgical procedure (either valve repair or replacement) was correctly predicted with transverse TEE in 71%, with longitudinal TEE in 69%, and with biplane TEE in 79% of the patients. All 3 transesophageal echocardiographic modalities are very of assessing the anatomic abnormalities and mechanism of mitral regurgitation, as well as predicting the feasibility of valve repair.