The value and limitations of echocardiography and cardiac scintigraphy in the diagnosis of right ventricular (RV) dysplasia were assessed. Criteria that defined RV dysfunction were developed first using data from 40 normal subjects. The sensitivity and specificity of these criteria to detect RV dysplasia were then determined in 44 patients suspected of having RV dysplasia. In these patients the presence (14 patients) or absence (30 patients) of RV dysplasia had been established using cardiac catheterization data, which included contrast RV cineangiograms. Mean RV end-diastolic and end-systolic diameters, and RV/left ventricular (LV) ratios of end-diastolic and end-systolic diameters and end-diastolic and end-systolic volumes were greater in patients with RV dysplasia (p less than 0.001). Using cardiac scintigraphy, all patients with RV dysplasia were identified by an RV/LV end-systolic volume greater than 1.8; exercise RV ejection fraction less than 50%; or exercise RV wall motion score more than 1. Using echocardiography, RV contraction abnormalities were seen in 80% of patients with RV dysplasia. The specificities, even in this selected population, were less than 100%. Thus, normal echocardiographic and scintigraphic results can be used instead of RV contrast cineangiography to exclude the diagnosis of RV dysplasia.