Pulmonary hypertension in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is associated with a poor prognosis. Reduction of pulmonary artery pressure in COPD by prolonged oxygen treatment has been shown to be associated with increased survival. In an attempt to find a suitable pharmacologic method of reducing pulmonary artery pressure and pulmonary vascular resistance in COPD, we enrolled 13 stable pulmonary-hypertensive, hypoxemic COPD patients in a study to test the effects of felodipine, a relatively new, vascular- selective calcium antagonist. Doppler echocardiography was used to estimate pulmonary artery pressure and cardiac output before treatment, 2, 7, and 12 weeks during felodipine treatment (10 to 20 mg/d), and after a 1-week placebo washout period. Measurements of lung function, arterial blood gases, and exercise capacity during an incremental bicycle ergometer test were also performed at intervals during the study period. Three patients withdrew from the study and of the remaining 10, 8 had some side effects of medication (peripheral edema or headache) that improved either spontaneously or following a reduction in drug dose. In the 10 patients who completed the study (8 male; mean age, 67 years), felodipine resulted in significant reductions in mean pulmonary artery pressure (22 percent) and total pulmonary (vascular) resistance (30 percent) and increases in cardiac output (15 percent) and stroke volume (13 percent) compared with baseline measurements and those taken after placebo washout. These effects were sustained over the 12 weeks of felodipine treatment. There was no adverse effect of felodipine treatment on pulmonary gas exchange at rest or during exercise and no change in lung function or exercise capacity. We conclude that in pulmonary hypertensive, hypoxemic COPD patients, felodipine substantially improves pulmonary hemodynamics.