The mechanism of forward flow produced by precordial compression during CPR was investigated with the aid of echocardiographic and hemodynamic measurements in anesthetized, mechanically ventilated domestic pigs. Both mitral and tricuspid valves opened during compression diastole and closed during compression systole. Valve motion persisted throughout resuscitation in 17 of 22 animals which were hemodynamically resuscitated. There was a 25 percent reduction in left ventricular area during compression systole. Maximum pressure generated during compression systole in the aorta exceeded that of the right atrium throughout the 12-min interval of precordial compression in successfully resuscitated animals. These observations provide evidence of direct cardiac compression as the mechanism accounting for effective forward blood flow during CPR. The persistence of valve function, chamber compression, and pressure gradients during precordial compression was predictive of successful resuscitation. The absence of these factors prognosticates failure of resuscitation and explains, in part, the inconsistency of prior reports.