To confirm the presence of cardiac dysfunction in a group of patients seropositive for the human immunodeficiency virus with either dyspnea on exertion or a reduced anaerobic threshold, 9 patients with no history of opportunistic infection underwent exercise right-sided heart catheterization. When compared with 13 control patients previously exercised in the same manner, the patients showed elevated exercise pulmonary capillary wedge pressure (14.6 +/- 3.3 mm of mercury versus 9.9 +/- 3.3 mm of mercury; P less than .005) and right atrial pressure (10.1 +/- 2.1 mm of mercury versus 4.7 +/- 3.2 mm of mercury; P less than .001) at a similar exercise oxygen consumption and cardiac index. Of the 9 patients, 8 had at least 1 catheterization value outside the 95% confidence limits for the control group and 4 patients had multiple abnormalities. Values for blood CD4 lymphocytes were 0.2 x 10(9) per liter or more for 7 of the 9. One patient underwent endomyocardial biopsy with findings consistent with a cardiomyopathy. We conclude that cardiac disease may occur at any immunologic stage of human immunodeficiency virus infection. These observations suggest an effect of this disease on the heart.