An understanding of the basic concepts of the physics of blood flow is of vital importance to the cardiologist as he or she attempts to utilize new blood flow imaging modalities, such as Doppler ultrasound and nuclear magnetic resonance imaging. Concepts such as the Bernoulli equation and its limitations, the continuity equation and volume flow calculations and the theory of free and confined jets have applications in cardiac blood flow-related problems. For example, mitral regurgitant flow may be treated with the free jet theory. Aortic stenosis results in confined jet flow. It is important that the cardiologist understand the basic principles behind these hydrodynamic concepts so that he or she can use them in appropriate applications. The limitations of the simplification of complex hydrodynamic relations that are used clinically need to be clearly understood so that these simplified principles are not used improperly or used to draw oversimplified conclusions.