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Strain rate images (SRI) of the beating heart have been proposed to identify non-contracting regions of myocardium. Initial attempts used spatial derivatives of tissue velocity (Doppler) signals. Here, an alternate method is proposed based on two-dimensional phase-sensitive speckle tracking applied to very high frame rate, real-time images. This processing can produce high resolution maps of the time derivative of the strain magnitude (i.e., square root of the strain intensity). Such images complement traditional tissue velocity images (TVI), providing a more complete description of cardiac mechanics. To test the proposed approach, SRI were both simulated and measured on a thick-walled, cylindrical, tissue-equivalent phantom modeling cardiac deformations. Real-time ultrasound images were captured during periodic phantom deformation, where the period was matched to the data capture rate of a commercial scanner mimicking high frame rate imaging of the heart. Simulation results show that SRI with spatial resolution between 1 and 2 mm are possible with an array system operating at 5 MHz. Moreover, these images are virtually free of angle-dependent artifacts present in TVI and simple strain rate maps derived from these images. Measured results clearly show that phantom regions of low deformation, which are difficult to identify on tissue velocity-derived SRI, are readily apparent with SRI generated from two-dimensional phase-sensitive speckle tracking.