Acute left ventricular failure (LVF) is a common medical emergency but detection and monitoring of pulmonary oedema remains problematic. Fluid is an important determinant of tissue impedance. Electrical impedance tomography (EIT) is a non-invasive technique allowing localisation of impedance changes within tissue. We have investigated the relationship between LVF and the electrical impedance of lung tissue. Twenty patients with a clinical diagnosis of acute left ventricular failure were compared with 30 normal subjects. Patients were monitored using serial chest radiographs and electrical impedance tomography measurements of lung impedance during hospital admission. Radiographs were graded according to the severity of pulmonary oedema by two independent radiologists. Lung impedance was significantly (P<0.0001) lower than normal in patients with left ventricular failure. Values returned towards the normal range as LVF resolved. There was a similar improvement in the score of the chest radiographs. The electrical impedance of the lung is low in left ventricular failure and increases following treatment.