To assess the use of Doppler echocardiographic screening for abnormal pulmonary vasoreactivity, we measured pulmonary artery pressure in 10 adult patients and 11 normal subjects while recording Doppler right ventricular outflow acceleration time, pre-ejection period, and ejection time. In the normal subjects we also measured the changes in each parameter after 10 minutes of hypoxic breathing (FIO2 = 0.12). Mean pulmonary artery pressure increased by 39% during hypoxia (13 +/- 4.3 to 18 +/- 5.4 mm Hg). In the patients and normal subjects at rest, mean pulmonary artery-pressure correlated well with acceleration time (r = -0.84; standard error of the estimate, 6.6 mm Hg; p = 0.0001). Over the narrow range of mean pulmonary artery pressure in normal subjects at rest, mean pulmonary artery pressure did not correlate well with acceleration time, acceleration time/pre-ejection period, or acceleration time/right ventricular ejection time. However, changes in mean pulmonary artery pressure induced by hypoxic breathing did correlate with changes in acceleration time/right ventricular ejection time (r = 0.73; standard error of the estimate, 2.3 mm Hg; p = 0.01). Doppler ultrasound may offer a noninvasive means for detecting abnormal pulmonary vasoreactivity in asymptomatic individuals at risk for developing pulmonary hypertension.