In order to evaluate the efficacy of bedside chest radiography, a prospective study was completed of 140 patients admitted to the surgical and medical intensive care units over a two-month period. A total of 1132 consecutive bedside radiographs was analyzed for malposition of tubes and lines and interval changes in the cardiopulmonary findings. The median number of bedside radiographs per patient was 0.7 per day. Endotracheal or tracheostomy tubes were present in 54% of all examinations; among these 12% were malpositioned. Central venous catheters were present in 47%; among these 9% were malpositioned. Interval changes regarding cardiopulmonary findings (pneumothorax, collapse, diffuse or focal infiltrate, effusion, and congestive heart failure) were present in 44% of the radiographs after the admission one. Overall there were new findings or changes affecting the patient's management present in 65% of the radiographs. The use of bedside radiography appeared to be appropriate.