There has been growing evidence for the benefits of β blockers, but α blockers have not shown sustained benefits in chronic congestive heart failure (CHF). Thirty patients with moderate to severe CHF (New York Heart Association class II to IV) were sequentially assigned to receive metaprolol 6.25 mg with the α-1 antagonist doxazosin 4 mg/day or metaprolol alone. The dose of metaprolol was gradually increased to a target dose of 50 mg orally twice daily. Hemodynamic measurements were obtained before drug therapy, 2 hours after the first dose of combined α-β therapy or metaprolol alone, and after 3 months of continuous treatment. Nuclear ejection fraction, plasma norepinephrine, and submaximal and maximal exercise capacity were also measured before and after chronic therapy. With initial combined drug administration, mean arterial pressure, left ventricular filling pressure, and systemic vascular resistance decreased significantly compared with results after metaprolol alone. However, after 3 months of continuous therapy, both treatment groups showed similar and significant reductions in systemic vascular resistance and heart rate, with significant increases in cardiac index, stroke volume index, stroke work index, injection fraction, and exercise capacity. Furthermore, the next dose of chronic combined medication no longer showed vasodilating effects. Chronic therapy with fixed- dose doxazosin and increasing doses of metoprolol produced identical effects as those seen in patients receiving metaprolol alone.