The cardiovascular effects of three doses of intravenous fentanyl (50, 100, and 200 microgram) were determined in 42 adult patients undergoing intraabdominal surgical procedures with enflurane (2--3%) and nitrous oxide (50%) in oxygen. Fentanyl was administered a minimum of 40 minutes after induction of anesthesia and 30 minutes after initiation of the surgical procedure. Stroke volume, heart rate, cardiac output, mean arterial and central venous blood pressures, and peripheral arterial resistance were determined by computer analysis of the central aortic pulse-pressure curve according to the method of Warner. Measurements were made before and 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10 minutes after fentanyl. Fentanyl (50 microgram) produced increases in stroke volume and cardiac output as well as a decrease in peripheral arterial resistance but did not alter heart rate or mean arterial blood pressure. Fentanyl (100 microgram) did not significantly change any variable at any time. Fentanyl (1l (200 microgram) produced sustained decreases in stroke volume, cardiac output and mean arterial blood pressure and increased central venous pressure but did not alter heart rate or peripheral arterial resistance. The data indicate that fentanyl (50--100 microgram) stimulates or has no effect on cardiovascular dynamics during enflurane-nitrous oxide anesthesia but fentanyl (200 microgram) produces significant cardiovascular depression. Our findings suggest that small doses of intravenous fentanyl may be of benefit during enflurane-nitrous oxide but larger doses should probably be avoided.