We present a new paradigm which incorporates multiple sets of tagged MRI data (MRI-SPAMM) acquired in a cascaded fashion in order to estimate the full 3-D motion of the left ventricle (LV) during its entire cardiac cycle. Our technique is based on an extension of our volumetric physics-based deformable models, whose parameters are functions. Using these parameters, we can characterize the local shape variation of an object with a small number of intuitive parameters. By integrating a cascaded sequence of SPAMM data sets into our modeling technique, we have extended the capability of the MRI-SPAMM technique and have provided an accurate representation of the LV motion during the full cardiac cycle (from end-diastole to end-diastole) to better understand cardiac mechanics. (C) 1999 Elsevier Science Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.