Dobutamine is useful for augmenting cardiovasuclar function in adults. However, no information is available on the action of dobutamine in children. To determine its hemodynamic effects in children, we infused dobutamine into 12 children with congenital heart disease during diagnostic cardiac catheterization. We administered dobutamine in two doses: first 2 and then 7.75 microgram/kg per min for 10 minutes each. We meaured heart rate, cardiac output, systemic and pulmonary arterial, right atrial and pulmonary capillary blood pressures before and during the infusion of dobutamine. Systemic and pulmonary vascular resistances, cardiac index and stroke index were calculated. Cardiac output, cardiac index, stroke volume, stroke index and systemic arterial phasic and mean blood pressures increased sugnificantly (P less than 0.05) and pulmonary capillary mean blood pressure decreased significantly (P less than 0.05) during the infusion of each dose of dobutamine compared with control values. Heart rate, pulmonary and right atrial mean blood pressure and systemic and pulmonary vascular resistance were unchanged with either dose of dobutamine. We noted no adverse effect from the drug.