Thyroid hormone directly affects the heart and peripheral vascular system. The hormone can increase myocardial inotropy and heart rate and dilate peripheral arteries to increase cardiac output. An excessive deficiency of thyroid hormone can cause cardiovascular disease and aggravate many preexisting conditions. In severe systemic illness and after major surgical procedures changes in thyroid function can occur, leading to the "euthyroid sick syndrome." Patients will have normal or decreased levels of T4, decreased free and total T3, and usually normal levels of thyroid stimulating hormone. This syndrome may be an adaptive response to systemic illness that usually will revert to normal without hormone supplementation as the illness subsides. Recently, however, many investigators have explored the benefits of thyroid hormone supplementation in those diseases associated with euthyroid sick syndrome. Thyroid hormone's effects on the cardiovascular system make it an attractive therapy for those patients with impaired hemodynamics and low T3. Thyroid hormone has also been considered a treatment for patients with congestive heart failure, for patients undergoing cardiopulmonary bypass and heart transplantation, and for patients with hyperlipidemia. At present there is no evidence suggesting a favorable treatment outcome using thyroid hormone supplementation for any systemic condition except in those patients with documented hypothyroidism.