Sixty-five patients with suspected pulmonary embolism were studied prospectively with both Kr-81 m and Xe-133 ventilation imaging and Tc-99m MAA perfusion imaging. The krypton images, perfusion scintigrams and chest radiographs were read independently of the xenon images, perfusion scintigrams and chest radiographs by three observers. The studies of 53 patients were interpreted as normal or as indicative of a low or intermediate probability for pulmonary embolism with both gases. One study indicated intermediate probability with Xe-133 due to diffuse, severe xenon retention but low probability with Kr-81 m because of close ventilation-perfusion correspondence. The studies of 9 patients indicated a high probability of embolism with both gases, while those of two additional patients (one with emboli at angiography) indicated a high probability only with Kr-81m. While essential agreement between Xe-133 and Kr-81m ventilation imaging was found in most patients, the significant difference in interpretation in 2 of 11 patients with probable pulmonary embolism suggests that a controlled, prospective trial with pulmonary angiography is warranted before Kr-81m is employed for routine clinical use.