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Intravascular volume status and volume responsiveness continue to be important questions for the management of critically ill or injured patients. Goal-directed hemodynamic therapy has been shown to be of benefit to patients with severe sepsis and septic shock, acute lung injury and adult respiratory distress syndrome, and for surgical patients in the operating room. Static measures of fluid status, central venous pressure (CVP), and pulmonary artery occlusion pressure (PAOP) are not useful in predicting volume responsiveness. Stroke volume variation and pulse pressure variation related to changes in stroke volume during positive pressure ventilation predict fluid responsiveness and represent an evolving practice for volume management in the intensive care unit (ICU) or operating room. Adoption of dynamic parameters for volume management has been inconsistent. This manuscript reviews some of the basic physiology regarding the use of stroke volume variation to predict fluid responsiveness in the ICU and operating room. A management algorithm using this physiology is proposed for the critically ill or injured in various settings.