OBJECTIVE--To compare Doppler, echocardiographic, and clinical variables in female and male patients with mitral stenosis. DESIGN--Observational study in consecutive patients with mitral stenosis of cross sectional and Doppler echocardiographic and clinical variables and a retrospective search for a history of systemic embolism. SETTING--A medical centre with 3000 beds, serving both urban and rural populations. PATIENTS--500 consecutive patients with an echocardiographic mitral valve area of 2 cm2 or less. 331 (66.2%) were female and 169 (33.8%) male (mean (SD) ages of 49 (13) and 48 (14) respectively). MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--Mitral valve areas by echocardiographic planimetry and Doppler pressure half-time method, peak early diastolic mitral velocity and pressure gradient, echocardiographic score of mitral valve, left atrial end systolic diameter, frequency of left atrial thrombus and smoky echoes as well as various valve lesions detected with Doppler and echocardiography, cardiac rhythm, symptomatic functional class of heart failure, and history of systemic embolism. RESULTS--The prevalence of significant tricuspid (22% v 9%, P < 0.001) and pulmonary regurgitation (5% v 1%, P = 0.018) was higher in the female patients than in the male patients. Female patients also had a higher peak regurgitant velocity (3.2 (0.7) v 2.9 (0.7) m/s, P = 0.007) and pressure gradient (41 (21) v 36 (19) mm Hg, P = 0.010) across the tricuspid valve. However, the male patients had a higher echocardiographic score (9.7 (2.4) v 7.0 (2.3), P < 0.001) and a smaller Doppler-derived mitral valve area (0.9 (0.4) v 1.0 (0.4) cm2, P = 0.027). There were no differences between the female and the male patients in mitral valve area measured by planimetry, peak early diastolic mitral velocity and pressure gradient, and left atrial end systolic diameter or in the prevalence of atrial fibrillation, left atrial thrombus, left atrial smoky echoes, significant aortic stenosis, aortic regurgitation, or heart failure of New York Heart Association class III or IV. CONCLUSIONS--Female patients not only had a higher prevalence of mitral stenosis but also had a higher prevalence of associated tricuspid and pulmonary regurgitation along with a higher velocity and gradient of tricuspid regurgitation. The echocardiographic score was higher in male patients, however. These findings suggest that the pathophysiology of mitral stenosis is different in the two sexes and that gender should be taken into account when therapeutic strategies are formulated.