This study sought to demonstrate that a novel speckle-tracking method can be used to assess right ventricular (RV) global and regional systolic function. Fifty-eight patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension (11 men; mean age 53 +/- 14 years) and 19 age-matched controls were studied. Echocardiographic images in apical planes were analyzed by conventional manual tracing for volumes and ejection fractions and by novel software (Axius Velocity Vector Imaging). Myocardial velocity, strain rate, and strain were determined at the basal, mid, and apical segments of the RV free wall and ventricular septum by Velocity Vector Imaging. RV volumes and ejection fractions obtained with manual tracing correlated strongly with the same indexes obtained by the Velocity Vector Imaging method in all subjects (r = 0.95 to 0.98, p < 0.001 for all). Peak systolic myocardial velocities, strain rate, and strain were significantly impaired in patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension compared with controls and were most altered in patients with the most severe pulmonary arterial hypertension (p < 0.05 for all). Pulmonary artery systolic pressure and a Doppler index of pulmonary vascular resistance were independent predictors of RV strain (r = -0.61 and r = -0.65, respectively, p < 0.05 for both). In conclusion, the new automated Velocity Vector Imaging method provides simultaneous quantitation of global and regional RV function that is angle independent and can be applied retrospectively to already stored digital images.