The haemodynamic effects of nifedipine were studied in 14 patients (aged 8-14 years, seven male and seven female) with ventricular septal defect with and without pulmonary hypertension. All underwent left and right heart catheterisation. In each patient the pressures and heart rate were measured and blood samples were taken for oximetry before and after sublingual administration of 10 mg nifedipine. In eight patients with ventricular septal defect without pulmonary hypertension (mean pulmonary artery pressure less than 20 mm Hg) nifedipine significantly reduced the mean aortic pressure and systemic vascular resistance, and significantly increased heart rate. The other haemodynamic indices did not change significantly. In six patients with ventricular septal defect complicated by pulmonary hypertension (mean pulmonary artery pressure greater than 20 mm Hg) nifedipine significantly increased systemic output, stroke volume, and heart rate, and significantly reduced systemic vascular resistance and the pulmonary to systemic flow ratio. The other haemodynamic indices did not change significantly. Nifedipine had a beneficial effect in patients with ventricular septal defect complicated by pulmonary hypertension. It reduced the left to right shunt and increased the stroke volume. This effect was not seen in patients with ventricular septal defect uncomplicated by pulmonary hypertension.