To examine whether respiratory muscle weakness is associated with cardiac function and/or exercise capacity in chronic heart failure (CHF), 23 patients with CHF were evaluated with respiratory muscle strength, pulmonary function tests, cardiac catheterization, and exercise test. The subjects were divided into three groups on their New York Heart Association (NYHA) functional class. Group A consisted of 13 patients with NYHA functional classification class 3 or 4, group B consisted of 10 patients with NYHA classification class 2, and group C consisted of 15 age-matched normal controls. Respiratory muscle strength was assessed with maximal static inspiratory mouth pressure at residual volume level and expiratory mouth pressure at total lung capacity level (PImax, PEmax, respectively). Pulmonary functions in patients with CHF showed almost normal. PImax in group A was significantly less than that in group B or C, although PImax in group B was not significantly different from that in group C. In the patients with CHF, PImax correlated positively with cardiac index and maximal oxygen consumption (r = 0.460 and r = 0.503, p < 0.05, respectively). These findings suggest that inspiratory muscle strength, which was impaired in patients with severe CHF, may be dependent on cardiac function and may be one of the limiting factors on impaired exercise capacity in the patients with CHF.