Right ventricular (RV) afterload consists of both resistive and capacitive (pulsatile) components. Total afterload can be measured directly with pulmonary artery input impedance spectra or estimated, either with lumped-parameter modeling or by pressure-volume analysis. However, the inverse, hyperbolic relationship between resistance and compliance in the lung would suggest that the pulsatile components are a predictable and constant proportion of the resistive load in most situations, meaning that total RV load can be estimated from mean resistive load alone. Exceptions include elevations in left atrial pressures and, to a lesser extent, chronic thromboembolic disease. The pulsatile components may also play a more significant role at normal or near-normal pulmonary artery pressures. Measures of coupling between RV afterload and RV contractility may provide important information not apparent by other clinical and hemodynamic measures. Future research should be aimed at development of noninvasive measures of coupling.