Congestive heart failure is accompanied by several hemodynamic alterations. To investigate whether these alterations include reduced arterial compliance, we studied 25 patients (age 57 ± 2 years, mean ± SE) with a mild or severe congestive heart failure based on clinical symptoms (New York Heart Association class II vs III or IV) and on echocardiographic alterations of left ventricular diastolic diameter ana ejection fraction. Radial artery diameter and blood pressure were continuously measured by Doppler ultrasonography and a finger pressure device, respectively. Compliance was calculated by the Langewouters formula, and compliance values were derived throughout the systolic-diastolic pressure range. The area under the compliancepressure curve normalized for pulse pressure was used to compare compliance values in the various groups. Data were obtained both in baseline condition and at the release from a 12-minute brachial artery occlusion. Fourteen healthy, age-matched subjects served as controls. Compared with the control group, patients with severe congestive heart failure showed a reduction of baseline compliance index (-48%, p < 0.01). Furthermore, while in control subjects compliance markedly increased after brachial artery occlusion (+43%, p < 0.01), in patients with severe congestive heart failure no increase occurred. No baseline compliance alteration was seen in patients with mild congestive heart failure in whom, however, the postischemic increase in compliance was also significantly blunted (-50% vs controls, p < 0.05). Thus, arterial compliance and arterial compliance modulation are impaired in congestive heart failure. Although more marked in severe congestive heart failure, the impairment is manifest in mild congestive heart failure as well.