Adaptation of right ventricular (RV) function to increased afterload—known as RV–arterial coupling—is a key determinant of prognosis in pulmonary hypertension. However, measurement of RV–arterial coupling is a complex, invasive process involving analysis of the RV pressure–volume relationship during preload reduction over multiple cardiac cycles. Simplified methods have therefore been proposed, including echocardiographic and cardiac MRI approaches. This review describes the available methods for assessment of RV function and RV–arterial coupling and the effects of pharmacotherapy on these variables. Overall, pharmacotherapies for pulmonary hypertension have shown beneficial effects on various measures of RV function, but it is often unclear if these are direct RV effects or indirect results of afterload reduction. Studies of the effects of pharmacotherapies on RV–arterial coupling are limited and mostly restricted to experimental models. Simplified methods to assess RV–arterial coupling should be validated and incorporated into routine clinical follow-up and future clinical trials. LINKED ARTICLES: This article is part of a themed issue on Risk factors, comorbidities, and comedications in cardioprotection. To view the other articles in this section visit http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/bph.v178.1/issuetoc.