To assess the magnitude and timing of cardiovascular changes in pregnancy, eight subjects were serially studied before conception and at 8, 16, and 24 weeks' gestation. With the use of M-mode echocardiography, cardiac output, ejection fraction, stroke volume, and end-diastolic volume were calculated from left ventricular dimensions with subjects in the left lateral position. Systemic vascular resistance was calculated with the use of cardiac output and simultaneously obtained measurements of arterial pressure. Cardiac output increased 1 L/min at 8 weeks' gestation, which represented greater than 50% of the total change seen. Cardiac output increased primarily because of stroke volume rather than heart rate. By 8 weeks' gestation, systemic vascular resistance had fallen to 70% of its preconceptional value. Thus when subjects are studied before conception and during the early phase of pregnancy, the majority of the pregnancy-induced changes in these parameters occur during the embryonic period.