Pulsed Doppler echocardiography was tested to assess the degree of tricuspid regurgitation (TR), classified by right ventriculography, in 47 patients. Forty-eight subjects without TR served as controls (39 with sinus rhythm and 9 with atrial fibrillation). Two Doppler methods were used: the distance of systolic turbulence within right atrium from the tricuspid plane and the quantitative analysis of the flow-velocity traces from the hepatic veins (HVs). Right atrial systolic turbulence was found in 41 of 47 patients with TR and in none of the control subjects, and moderately correlated with the angiographic grading (r = 0.57). In control subjects, TR flow-velocity traces from the HVs showed 2 anterograde flow waves, systolic and diastolic. The ratio of anterograde systolic/anterograde diastolic velocity was more than 0.6 in 38 subjects with sinus rhythm and in 8 with atrial fibrillation. Twenty-two control subjects had a positive wave (designated as "v") coincident with the end of T wave. In 30 patients with TR, a retrograde holosystolic wave was present. Of the remaining patients, 12 had a ratio of anterograde systolic/anterograde diastolic velocity less than 0.6. Fifteen had an end-systolic "v-like" wave, which occurred earlier than the v wave in control subjects (p less than 0.001). In patients with TR, maximal velocities of the anterograde diastolic and retrograde systolic flow correlated with angiographic grading (r = 0.74 and 0.73, respectively). An anterograde diastolic flow velocity more than 26 cm/s and a retrograde systolic flow velocity more than 16 cm/s excluded mild TR. Analysis of Doppler recordings of the HVs is valuable to semiquantitatively assess TR, complementing the right atrial Doppler findings.