Severe acute cardiogenic pulmonary edema (ACPE) can successfully be treated with noninvasive pressure support ventilation (NIPSV) in a clinical setting. Whether prehospital NIPSV starting early at patients' home and being continued until hospital arrival is feasible and improves ACPE emergency care is examined in this study. End points of the study were oxygen saturation at hospital admission and clinical outcome. Twenty-three patients suffering from severe cardiac pulmonary edema with severe dyspnea, an oxygen saturation of less than 90% and basal rales were included in this controlled prospective randomized trial. All patients received standard medical treatment and 10 patients were additionally treated with NIPSV (pressure support level, 12 cmH2O; positive endexpiratory pressure, 5 cmH2O; FiO2, 0.6) whereas the other patients received oxygen (8 l/min) via Venturi face mask. Improvement in oxygen saturation was significantly faster in the NIPSV group and oxygen saturation was higher at the time of the hospital admission (NIPSV=97.3+/-0.8%; standard=89.5+/-2.7%, P=0.002). A trend toward higher troponin T levels was seen in the standard treatment group. The need for intensive care treatment did not differ, and one patient of each treatment group died in hospital. No complications were noted during the treatment with NIPSV. Prehospital NIPSV is feasible and able to improve emergency management of ACPE.