Aims Imatinib mesylate, as add-on therapy in patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) who remain inadequately treated despite receiving at least two PAH-specific drugs, improves exercise capacity and haemodynamics. We evaluated whether 24 weeks of add-on therapy with imatinib compared with placebo also improves right ventricular (RV) function assessed by echocardiography. Methods and results Echocardiograms were obtained at baseline, 12 weeks, and 24 weeks in 74 patients randomized to imatinib or placebo in the Imatinib in Pulmonary arterial hypertension, a Randomized Efficacy Study (IMPRES) trial. Right ventricular function was assessed by tissue Doppler tricuspid annular peak systolic velocity (TA S′), tricuspid annular plane systolic excursion (TAPSE), RV Tei index, and RV fractional area change. Between-treatment-group differences in the changes from baseline to week-24 were assessed using an ANCOVA with the last observation carried forward. At week-24 patients randomized to imatinib demonstrated greater improvements in TA S′ (1.6 ± 2.3 imatinib vs. 0.5 ± 2.4 cm/s placebo, P = 0.007) and RV Tei index (-0.11 ± 0.18 imatinib vs. 0.05 ± 0.18 placebo, P = 0.005) compared with placebo, but not in TAPSE (0.07 ± 0.44 imatinib vs. 0.03 ± 0.32 cm placebo, P = 0.08). Imatinib therapy was also associated with significant reduction in peak tricuspid regurgitation velocity, increase in LV size, and improvement in LV early diastolic relaxation velocity. Conclusions Among patients with advanced PAH who remain symptomatic on at least two PAH-specific drugs, treatment with imatinib compared with placebo is associated with significant improvements in echocardiographic measures of RV function, in addition to LV size and LV early diastolic relaxation.