Endocarditis involving right-sided valvular structures is largely a disease of intravenous drug abusers. The majority of these patients respond to antibiotic therapy with clearing of their bacteremia and preservation of their hemodynamic status. This study evaluated the prognostic value of echocardiographically determined vegetation size in 23 episodes of right-sided valvular endocarditis in 21 patients. Right-sided vegetations were visualized in 19 of 23 episodes (83 percent). Of these, a vegetation of 1.0 cm or greater was found in 11. No patient with an echocardiographically determined vegetation size of less than 1.0 cm required surgery, whereas four of 11 (36 percent) of those episodes in which the vegetation size was 1.0 cm or greater required surgery for persistent pyrexia (p less than 0.05). In all patients requiring surgery, a bioprosthetic tricuspid valve was placed at the time of initial surgery and in no patient did early reinfection occur. This study reconfirms the benign prognosis of right-sided valvular endocarditis. Further, although vegetations of less than 1.0 cm identify those patients who will respond to medical therapy, echocardiographically documented vegetations of 1.0 cm or greater are associated with a significantly lower response rate to appropriate medical therapy. The association of fever that persists for more than three weeks in the absence of another source of infection with an echocardiographically demonstrable right-sided vegetation of 1 cm or more identifies those patients who will require surgical intervention. Finally, tricuspid valve replacement can be performed at the time of initial surgery without undue concern for early reinfection or valve dysfunction.