Although aortic root dilation has etiologic and prognostic significance in patients with chronic aortic regurgitation (AR), no information is available regarding changes over time in aortic root size in patients with the entire spectrum of AR severity or how such changes relate to progression of the AR or to left ventricular (LV) overload. To analyze this, a total of 127 patients with chronic AR who had more than 6 months of follow-up by two- dimensional and Doppler echocardiography were included in the study (69 men and 58 women; mean age 59.3 ± 21.2 years [range 14 to 94 years]; 67 cases of mild, 45 moderate, 15 severe, and 21 bicuspid aortic valve disease). The aortic anulus, sinuses of Valsalva, supraaortic ridge, and ascending aorta were measured in the parasternal long-axis view, LV volumes were calculated (biplane Simpson's approach), and the severity of AR was quantified based on proximal jet size and graded according to an algorithm that takes into account major color Doppler criteria. At entry to the study, significant differences between patients with mild, moderate, and severe AR were noted only in supraaortic ridge size (1.46 ± 0.29 cm/m2 vs 1.63 ± 0.33 cm/m2 [p< 0.006]; vs 1.67 ± 0.43 cm/m2 [p < 0.03]). A significant increase in aortic root size at all levels was observed during the follow-up period in all three groups of severity of AR. The rate of change of the supraaortic ridge, the upper support structure of the anulus and cusps, was faster in patients with more severe degrees of AR (p = 0.013); this was not the case at the other aortic levels. No differences were observed in aortic root size or rate of progression between patients with bicuspid or tricuspid aortic valves. Patients were considered 'progressive' if they lay on the steepest positive segment of the curve representing the rank order in the rate of aortic root progression. Compared with 'nonprogressive' patients, patients who were progressive in supraaortic ridge size (rate >0.12 cm/yr; n = 23) had a faster rate of progression in the degree of regurgitation as assessed by the regurgitant jet area/LV outflow tract area ratio measured in the parasternal short-axis view (0.48 ± 0.45 vs 0.24 ± 0.5/yr; p < 0.03) and a faster rate of progression of LV end-diastolic volume (30 ± 22.8 vs 14.4 ± 15.6 ml/yr; p < 0.0002) and LV mass (70.8 ± 74.4 vs 16.8 ± 19.2 gm/yr.; p < 0.0004). In conclusion, there is progressive dilation of the aortic root at all levels, even in patients with mild AR. More rapid progression in aortic root size is associated with more rapid progression of the underlying aortic insufficiency, as well as more rapid increases in LV volume and mass.