Cross sectional echocardiography combined with Doppler echocardiography was used to record either ductal morphology or the flow profile within the ductus arteriosus before and after infusion of prostaglandin E1 in 25 newborn infants with cyanotic and acyanotic congenital heart disease with ductus dependent blood flow. The ultrasound results were compared with changes in arterial oxygen tension and the overall clinical response to prostaglandin E1 seen during the same period in 24 of the 25 patients in whom the degree of ductal narrowing could be determined with the ultrasound method. At the time of the study, the ductus was widely patent or slightly narrowed in 12 patients and was closed in two patients. These patients did not respond to prostaglandin E1. There was prominent localised narrowing of the ductus in seven patients and generalised narrowing in three. After the infusion of prostaglandin E1 there was no ductal narrowing in these patients, except for one patient who had slight residual localised narrowing. There was also a considerable change in the ductal flow profiles in each patient. In these 10 patients infusion of prostaglandin E1 resulted in an increase in arterial oxygen tension, clinical improvement, or both. The present study indicates that prostaglandin E1 is effective in patients with prominent narrowing of the ductus but is not in patients in whom the ductus is widely patent or closed. Cross sectional echocardiography combined with Doppler echocardiography was useful for predicting the responsiveness of the ductus arteriosus to the infusion.