Primary pulmonary hypertension is characterized by elevated pulmonary arterial pressure and vascular resistance, frequently producing right heart failure and death. Therefore, the Doppler right ventricular (RV) index, which is a measure of global RV function, could be a useful predictor of outcome in primary pulmonary hypertension. The Doppler RV index, defined as the sum of isovolumic contraction time and isovolumic relaxation time divided by ejection time, was retrospectively measured in 53 patients (38 women, aged 45 +/- 14 years) with primary pulmonary hypertension. Ejection time was measured from the pulmonary outflow velocity signal. The sum of isovolumic contraction time and isovolumic relaxation time was obtained by subtracting ejection time from the duration of tricuspid regurgitation. The Doppler RV index tended to be elevated (median 0.83) compared with normal ranges. Normal Doppler RV index was 0.28 +/- 0.04. After a mean follow-up duration of 2.9 years, 4 patients underwent lung transplantation and 30 patients died; the cause was cardiac in 28, noncardiac in 1, and uncertain in 1. Univariately, the Doppler RV index (chi-square 20.7, p <0.0001), severity of tricuspid regurgitation (chi-square 8.2, p = 0.004), treatment with calcium blockers (chi-square 6.6, p = 0.01), heart rate (chi-square 5.1, p = 0.02), and symptom status (chi-square 4.9, p = 0.03) were associated with adverse outcome (cardiac deaths and lung transplantation). However, only the Doppler RV index and treatment with calcium blockers were independent predictors within the multivariate model. Our results indicate that the Doppler RV index is a useful predictor of adverse outcome in patients with primary pulmonary hypertension.