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The goal of this study was to determine the effect of liposome-encapsulated prostaglandin E1 (PGE1) on oxygen delivery and consumption and hemodynamics in patients with the acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Mechanically ventilated patients with ARDS and pulmonary artery catheters who were in the intensive care unit (ICU) were enrolled within 24 hours of diagnosis. Treatment consisted of either liposomal PGE1 or placebo every 6 hours in a dose-escalating fashion for up to 7 days. Cardiac index (CI), systemic vascular resistance index (SVRI), oxygen delivery (DO2) and consumption (VO2), and oxygen extraction ratio were determined every morning before and after the dose of study drug using arterial and mixed venous blood gases and standard formulas. No significant differences in any of the variables were observed over time or between groups. Liposomal PGE1 administered in this fashion does not alter hemodynamic parameters or oxygen transport variables in patients with ARDS.