In this retrospective study, we attempted to identify early in the course of septic shock hemodynamic variables that differ between survivors and nonsurvivors. We examined the records of 78 patients with septic shock from our medical ICU (40 survivors and 38 nonsurvivors). Significant differences were found in cardiac index (CI) (4.07 +/- 0.25 vs. 2.98 +/- 0.25 L/min.m2) and oxygen delivery (DO2) (15.6 +/- 0.7 vs. 12.7 +/- 0.8 ml/min.kg) at 48 h between surviving and nonsurviving patients. Furthermore, an analysis of the relationship between DO2 and VO2 suggests a critical level of DO2 to be 15 ml/min.kg. Although no difference could be detected in initial arterial lactate concentrations, levels at 48 h were significantly different between survivors and nonsurvivors (2.6 +/- 0.2 vs. 4.1 +/- 0.5 mEq/L, respectively).