Milrinone, a positive inotropic drug with vasodilating properties, was administered at doses of 0.5 to 1 mg/kg orally twice daily to 29 dogs with moderate to severe congestive heart failure (CHF). Significant echocardiographic improvement in ventricular systolic function was observed after 3 days of administration of milrinone and at the patients' last echocardiographic observation (day 21 in 25 subjects, day 7 in 2 subjects, and day 3 in 2 subjects). Echocardiographic shortening fraction at the initial measurement had a median increase of 6.14% (P less than 0.001), and for the last observation a 2.83% increase (P less than 0.005). Most patients also showed improvement in their clinical signs as assessed by the veterinarian (72%) and by owner's evaluation (81%). No consistent problem or adverse reaction to milrinone was observed, except for a small number of clinically manageable ventricular dysrhythmias. Milrinone appears in this trial to be effective for the treatment of advanced CHF in dogs.