Cheyne-Stokes breathing (CSB), which is a prevalent finding in congestive heart failure (CHF) patients, has been shown to be of prognostic value. The oscillations in respiration were shown to be associated with oscillations in sympathetic nerve activation. We tested the hypothesis that the peripheral arterial tone (PAT) as measured by a novel finger plethysmograph can be used to detect CSB. Using a novel technique to measure the PAT, we monitored 10 patients with advanced CHF simultaneously with conventional polysomnographic recordings for either 1 or 2 nights. Records were scored for CSB during 3-min periods based on either respiratory effort and nasal-buccal airflow or on the PAT signal alone. The PAT sensitivity and specificity for the detection of periods containing CSB were 91 and 91% for the entire recording, 90.7 and 92.9% for non-REM sleep, 90.7 and 70% for REM sleep, and 73 and 97.3% for awake periods, respectively. PAT is a reliable marker of CSB in CHF patients. The novel finger plethysmograph can be used for screening and monitoring CSB.