Patients who present with acute cardiovascular compromise require haemodynamic monitoring in a critical care unit. Central venous pressure (CVP) is the most frequently used measure to guide fluid resuscitation in critically ill patients. It is most often done via a central venous catheter (CVC) positioned in the right atrium or superior or inferior vena cava as close to the right atrium as possible. The CVC is inserted via the internal jugular vein, subclavian vein or via the femoral vein, depending on the patient and their condition. Complications of CVC placement can be serious, so its risks and benefits need to be considered. Alternative methods to CVC use include transpulmonary thermodilution and transoesophageal Doppler ultrasound. Despite its widespread use, CVP has been challenged in many studies, which have reported it to be a poor predictor of haemodynamic responsiveness. However, it is argued that CVP monitoring provides important physiologic information for the evaluation of haemodynamic instability. Nurses have central roles during catheter insertion and in CVP monitoring, as well as in managing these patients and assessing risks.