Background and Objective Diastolic dysfunction of the left ventricle is a mechanical abnormality diagnosed primarily by echocardiogram, and can be distinguished into three separate degrees based on the severity of reduction in passive compliance and active myocardial relaxation. Methods A literature search was performed for basic science studies, clinical studies and major practice guidelines on the subject of diastolic dysfunction and diastolic heart failure. Important findings were analyzed and correlated with regard to clinical relevance. Results Left ventricular diastolic dysfunction appears to compromise exercise tolerance and is believed to contribute to the pathophysiology in patients with diastolic heart failure. In the clinical setting, however, oftentimes no clear distinction is made between echocardiographically diagnosed diastolic dysfunction and diastolic heart failure, and adequate treatment recommendations are sparse and aimed to prevent worsening and progression of clinical symptoms. To date, there is a lack of high powered trials assessing the possible progression rate from echocardiographically diagnosed diastolic dysfunction to the clinical diagnosis of diastolic heart failure. Furthermore, there are no solid indices to assess the degree of severity of diastolic dysfunction or its progression. Pure right ventricular diastolic dysfunction appears to be even less understood and under-recognized, although it may play a role in the development of both right and left heart failure. Currently there are few but interesting data on the possible interaction between ventricles with diastolic dysfunction and the overall affect on the development of heart failure. Conclusions The timeline and progression of diastolic dysfunction to diastolic heart failure have not been well established and warrant further investigation.