In this review of the current status of the vascular laboratory, the major emphasis has been upon those tests that have become well-established and documented, including resting pressure, pulse volume measurements, velocity studies, and three stress measurements--exercise ankle pressure, postocclusive reactive hyperemia, and the toe pulse reappearance time. Additional technology that may have application to peripheral arterial disease includes photoplethysmography, transcutaneous oxygen tension, laser-Doppler velocimetry, fluorescein angiography, infrared thermography, and transcutaneous electromagnetic flowmetry. These techniques, which are currently in development and experimental trial, were not discussed but are likely to provide significant additional information. The future role of the vascular diagnostic laboratory in the area of peripheral arterial occlusive disease appears clear. It has already become a standard resource of the community hospital and tertiary referral center. Its functions will become more and more generally accepted with time as newly graduating physicians who have been exposed to this technology enter the practice of medicine. It should permit obtaining an evaluation of all patients at the expert level, aid in the education of all physicians concerned with peripheral arterial disease, and play an important part in guaranteeing a higher level of patient care than has heretofore been available.