Symptomatic pericardial effusion has been recognized as a diagnostic and therapeutic problem for many centuries. Although surgical incision and blind needle puncture of the pericardium for removal of the fluid have been available for somewhat more than 150 years, both procedures are associated with serious complications. Echocardiography provides a unique means of diagnosing and managing pericardial effusion. The two-dimensional echocardiographic beam demonstrates the presence of the pericardial effusion and locates an ideal entry point and track for the needle used in pericardiocentesis. At our institution, echocardiography-directed pericardiocentesis has been the procedure of choice for cardiac tamponade for the past 4 years, during which time 132 consecutive pericardial taps have been performed. Our experience has shown that this is a safe, effective technique that can be used by a physician who is familiar with two-dimensional echocardiography. We recommend its wide acceptance and use.