Doppler echocardiographic characteristics of normally functioning Hancock and Björk-Shiley prostheses in the mitral and aortic positions were studied in 50 patients whose valvular function was considered normal by clinical evaluation. Doppler studies were also performed in 46 patients with suspected malfunction of Hancock and Björk-Shiley valves and who subsequently underwent cardiac catheterization. Mean gradients were estimated for both mitral and aortic valve prostheses and valve area was calculated for the mitral prostheses. Doppler prosthetic mitral valve gradient and valve area showed good correlation with values obtained with cardiac catheterization (r = 0.93 and 0.97, respectively) for both types of prosthetic valves. The correlation coefficient (r = 0.93) for mean prosthetic aortic valve gradient was also good, although Doppler echocardiography overestimated the mean gradient at lower degrees of obstruction. Regurgitation of Hancock and Björk-Shiley prostheses in the mitral and aortic positions was correctly diagnosed. These results suggest that Doppler echocardiography is a reliable method for the characterization of normal and abnormal prosthetic valve function.