To assess the pulmonary and systemic hemodynamic effects of oral captopril in patients with connective tissue disease and pulmonary hypertension, we performed right heart catheterization in eight patients with diffuse systemic sclerosis, the CREST syndrome, or mixed connective tissue diseases prior to and immediately following administration of captopril (dose range 12.5 to 50.0 mg, short-term study). Four of these patients underwent repeat right heart catheterization after three to six months of oral captopril therapy (long-term study). In the short-term study, oral captopril produced a significant decrease in mean pulmonary vascular resistance from 6.2 +/- 3.6 to 4.6 +/- 3.8 units (p < 0.01). This was accompanied by a significant decrease in mean pulmonary artery pressure, mean blood pressure, mean systemic vascular resistance and a significant increase in cardiac output. Similar changes in pulmonary hemodynamics were noted in the long-term study. Thus, oral captopril is capable of producing an acute and sustained reduction in pulmonary vascular resistance in patients with pulmonary hypertension associated with the aforementioned connective tissue diseases.