We performed a randomized, prospective trial to evaluate whether fluid management that emphasized diuresis and fluid restriction in patients with pulmonary edema could affect the development or resolution of extravascular lung water (EVLW), as well as time on mechanical ventilation and time in the intensive care unit (ICU), in critically ill patients requiring pulmonary artery catheterization (PAC). PAC was performed on 101 patients. A total of 52 patients were randomized to an EVLW management group using a protocol based on bedside indicator-dilution measurements of EVLW. The other 49 patients were randomized to a wedge pressure (WP) management group in whom fluid management decisions were guided by WP measurements. A total of 89 patients had pulmonary edema (defined as EVLW greater than 7 ml/kg ideal body weight). Except for a clinically unimportant difference in mean age, the two groups were entirely comparable at baseline. The study groups were managed differently, as evidenced by cumulative input-output of 2,239 +/- 3,695 ml (median = 1,600 ml) in the WP group versus 142 +/- 3,632 ml (median = 754 ml) in the EVLW group (p = 0.001). EVLW decreased significantly, and ventilator-days and ICU days were significantly shorter only in patients from the EVLW group. No clinically significant adverse effect occurred as a result of following the EVLW group algorithm. Thus, a lower positive fluid balance, especially in patients with pulmonary edema regardless of cause, is associated with reduced EVLW, ventilator-days, and ICU days.