The importance of right ventricular (RV) function in cardiovascular disease and cardiac surgery has been recognized for several years. RV dysfunction has been shown to be a significant prognostic factor in heart failure, congenital heart disease, valvular disease, and cardiac surgery. In the first of our two articles, we will review key features of RV anatomy, physiology, and assessment. In the first article, the main discussion will be centered on the echographic assessment of RV structure and function. In the second review article, pathophysiology, clinical importance, and management of RV failure in cardiac surgery will be discussed.