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To assess the value of the chest radiograph in differentiating various types of pulmonary edema, we retrospectively analyzed 119 films of patients with pulmonary edema caused by left heart decompensation (group 1;N=56), renal failure (group 2;N=19), and lung microvascular injury (group 3; N = 44). Chest radiographs were examined independently by two trained observers, unaware of the clinical diagnosis, according to a standardized reading table. The two observers assigned chest films to the corresponding group with an accuracy of 86% and 90%, respectively. To test the observers' objectivity, we used radiographic findings as input variables for discriminant analysis. Computer-generated numerical functions identified pulmonary edema etiology with an accuracy of 88% when considering the three groups together. When groups were compared as pairs, percentages of correct classification were 91% (group 1 vs. group 2), 93% (group 1 vs. group 3), and 100% (group 2 vs. group 3). Thus, a standardized reading of chest radiographs may be considered a reliable clinical method for identifying pulmonary edema etiology.