The right ventricular free wall was surgically isolated from the remainder of the heart in eight dogs to evaluate the functional consequences of this procedure. Each dog was instrumented with ultrasonic dimension transducers in the right and left ventricular free walls, intracavitary micromanometers, and pulmonary artery flow probes. Volume loading and vena caval occlusions were performed to assess diastolic compliance and systolic function. Right ventricular unstressed myocardial segment length increased from 14.2 ± 0.7 to 15.0 ± 0.8 mm (p < 0.5). There was an accompanying significant postoperative loss of right ventricular diastolic compliance (p < 0.005). Regional right ventricular systolic function and regional left ventricular diastolic compliance and systolic function were preserved after the procedure. Postoperatively, when the right ventricular free wall was not paced and left silent, right ventricular stroke work decreased from 7.0 ± 0.8 to 2.7 ± 0.5 gm-m/m2 (p < 0.05). These data demonstrate that the diastolic compliance of the right ventricular free wall decreases significantly after right ventricular isolation. However, there were no changes in regional right ventricular sytolic or regional left ventricular function. The isolated right ventricular free wall contributes significantly to postoperative cardiac performance.