Long-term observations of a 35-year-old woman who died from refractory congestive heart failure due to Takayasu's aortoarteritis are reported. Severe systolic hypertension was documented in the pre-pulseless phase. After the loss of all limb pulses, but relative sparing of carotid vessels, serial ophthalmodynamometric retinal pressures suggested that central aortic pressure remained high during her terminal cardiac illness. Postmortem pathologic examination showed a narrowed, severely atherosclerotic aorta with variable occlusions of all branch vessels. The loss of capacitance and volume of the aorta appears to be the cause of systolic hypertension and refractory pump failure of the left ventricle.