Acute heart failure is unusual in the pediatric population, but in many situations it justifies aggressive therapy. For example, children with lymphocytic myocarditis have an overall survival rate of nearly 90%, with complete myocardial recovery for the majority. Pharmacologic agents traditionally have been the mainstay of medical therapy for acute heart failure, but, in recent years, there has been increasing interest in using measures that reduce the myocardial workload. This article highlights nonpharmacologic approaches to the management of severe heart failure in the critically ill child. It also concentrates on physiologic approaches that address the balance between oxygen demand and delivery; the manipulation of cardiopulmonary interactions to optimize ventricular function; and the use of mechanical circulatory support as a method of achieving ultimate myocardial rest.