The objectives of this study were to assess current practice patterns in pharmacotherapy for congestive heart failure at an academic medical center and to analyze temporal trends in management of congestive heart failure from 1990 to 1995. Records of all patients discharged from the hospital in 1990 or 1995 with a primary diagnosis of congestive heart failure who also underwent echocardiography were found by a search of the hospital's medical records database. All charts were reviewed, and relevant clinical data, including all discharge medications, were recorded. On the basis of echocardiograms, patients were classified as having preserved or impaired left ventricular systolic function (estimated ejection fraction ≤45% versus <45%). The use of digoxin, diuretics, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, calcium and β-blockers, nitrates, and hydralazine in 1990 and 1995 were compared in subgroups according to left ventricular function. A total of 297 patients were identified who fulfilled study criteria and for whom all pertinent data were available (1990, n = 109; 1995, n = 188). The median age was 74 years; 37.3% of the patients were men, and 45.1% were white. Among patients with impaired systolic function, the proportion receiving either an ACE inhibitor or the combination of nitrates and hydralazine increased from 80.9% in 1990 to 95.4% in 1995 (p = 0.009). In addition, among patients treated with an ACE inhibitor, the proportion receiving an optimal dose increased from 24.3% in 1990 to 61.5% in 1995 (p < 0.001). The use of β-blockers also increased significantly during this time period (2.1% versus 15.7%; p = 0.031). Among patients with preserved ventricular function, the use of ACE inhibitors and β-blockers increased from 1990 to 1995 (both p < 0.05). The use of other medications did not change for either subgroup. Current use of appropriate vasodilator therapy at an academic medical center is very high and is in accordance with published guidelines for the management of congestive heart failure. The use of vasodilators and β-blockers has increased significantly since 1990 among patients with congestive heart failure with either impaired or preserved left ventricular contractility.