Postoperative echocardiogram often demonstrate persistent right ventricular dilatation and paradoxic ventricular septal motion after repair of an atrial septal defect. To determine the prevalence, causes and significance of these echocardiographic abnormalities, 31 patients were studied with catheterization and echocardiography before and after repair of an atrial septal defect. Before operation, every patient manifested right ventricular dilatation, and all but one had abnormal septal motion. After operation, right ventricular dilatation was noted in 24 (77%) and abnormal septal motion in 21 (68%) patients despite the absence of residual left to right shunting in 30 (97%). These echocardiographic abnormalities could be correlated with age at operation and length of postoperative follow-up study but did not correlate with the degree of preoperative right ventricular enlargement or with shunt size or right ventricular pressure before or after operation. There was no associated functional deficit as demonstrated by the normal maximal oxygen consumption in all 13 patients who underwent treadmill exercise testing 5 to 38 months after operation; these patients included 9 with persistent right ventricular enlargement and abnormal septal motion.