Although Doppler echocardiography is useful in the assessment of left ventricular function at rest, little information is available on the application of this technique during exercise. Consequently, Doppler aortic flow studies were performed in 17 young normal subjects during and after supine bicycle exercise. The purposes of the study were to determine the feasibility of recording Doppler aortic flow velocity with a suprasternal notch transducer during exercise and to assess the changes in normal aortic flow velocity parameters during exercise and early recovery. Each subject exercised until fatigue; mean duration of exercise was 10 minutes. Heart rate increased from a mean of 69 beats/min at control to 159 beats/min at peak exercise. On average, aortic peak flow velocity increased by 45% from control, reaching its maximum at 2 minutes after exercise. Ejection time decreased by 34% during exercise, being shortest at peak exercise. Heart rate, peak flow velocity and ejection time had not returned to normal by 10 minutes after exercise. Aortic flow velocity integral (a relative measure of stroke volume) decreased by 10% at peak exercise (p less than 0.05) compared with control, but had returned to control at 2 minutes after exercise. Despite mild aliasing, increased spectral dispersion, faster heart rates and increased respiratory rate during maximal exercise, aortic flow velocity measurements could be recorded using the suprasternal technique. These baseline Doppler exercise data should be useful in further studies of exercise hemodynamic changes in patients with heart disease.