1. The ventilation and cardiac frequency during progressive exercise and the respiratory responses to breathing carbon dioxide have been measured in 33 female patients with mitral stenosis and in 31 control subjects. Compared with the control subjects, the patients' exercise ventilation and cardiac frequency were increased; the exercise tidal volume at standard minute volume, the vital capacity and the ventilatory response to carbon dioxide were reduced. The extent to which the standardized tidal volume was lower during exercise than during breathing carbon dioxide was correlated with the severity of the stenosis, as gauged by the increase in exercise cardiac frequency above the level predicted from anthropometric measurements.
2. Twenty patients were studied postoperatively. In the 12 who showed clinical improvement the exercise ventilation and cardiac frequency were reduced and the exercise tidal volume at a given minute ventilation was increased. The latter change occurred despite a reduction in vital capacity, which was probably a residual effect of thoractomy. There was no significant change in the response to breathing carbon dioxide. No material change in function was observed in the patients whose condition was not improved by the operation.
3. It is suggested that in mitral stenosis the tachypnoea which occurs during exercise, whilst mainly a mechanical consequence of the reduced vital, capacity, is also partly due to pulmonary congestion stimulating intrapulmonary receptors.