Electron beam computed tomography (EBCT) is a potentially useful modality to quantitate regional pulmonary flow (RPF) with minimal invasiveness, in part because it has good spatial and temporal resolution. The present studies used a single compartment model of indicator transport and EBCT to measure regional tissue flow in the lungs of human subjects. The model postulates that flow is proportional to maximal enhancement and assumes complete tissue accumulation of indicator before significant indicator washout (WO). EBCT flow studies were retrospectively analyzed with respect to RPF in 10 adult patients who had undergone clinically indicated or research cardiovascular studies. Time density curves from the left atrial (LA) cavity and one-third segments of left (LL) and right (RL) lungs (A: anterior, M: middle, and P: posterior segments) were used to calculate RPF. Washout was determined as the percent of the LA curve at the time of peak parenchymal opacification using gamma curve fits to both tissue data and the LA curve data. Mean +/- standard deviation RPF in ml/min/ml was 0.8 +/- 0.4, 1.1 +/- 0.4, and 1.3 +/- 0.4 for A, M, and P respectively for one-third regions in the left lung. Similar results were found in the right lung. No difference in RPF was found when images were measured either by including the largest of visible parenchymal vessels or when such vessels were excluded. Flow in A of LL and RL was less than that in M or P. Average WO was about 10%, with a range of 0-41% of the LA curve area. There was no significant difference between one-third segment WO using pairwise comparison on the left and right sides when tested separately. RPF values were greater in the posterior vs anterior regions of these supine patients. In conclusion, EBCT can detect gravity related flow differences in the human lung. EBCT has potential for clinical assessment of absolute regional pulmonary flow determination in animals and man.