1. Cardiac output measured by transthoracic impedance cardiography has been compared with simultaneous measurements made by the indirect Fick CO2 rebreathing method in nine adults and 14 children. All were healthy normal volunteers. Sixty-six comparisons were made at rest and during steady exercise at work loads up to 100 W.
2. Impedance measurements of cardiac output were consistently higher than indirect Fick measurements of cardiac output, but after application of a correction factor related to packed cell volume there was close correlation between the results obtained by the two methods (r = 0·94).
3. The mean coefficient of variation of impedance measurements of cardiac output was 13% at rest and 5% during steady-state exercise.
4. Changes of lung volume due to breath holding or resulting from addition of an expiratory resistance did not affect the measurement of cardiac output by impedance.
5. Transthoracic impedance cardiography is a rapid, non-invasive technique for measurement of cardiac output. It requires very little active co-operation from the subject. The method would probably give reliable results for patients with respiratory illnesses such as acute asthma or bronchiolitis, during which changes of lung volume may be expected to occur.