RATIONALE AND OBJECTIVES To prospectively compare high-pitch computed tomography (HPCT) under free breathing (FB) with standard-pitch CT (SPCT) under breath-hold (BH) for detection of pulmonary embolism (PE). MATERIALS AND METHODS One hundred consecutive patients (47 females; mean age 58.7 ± 16.6) randomly underwent HPCT-FB (n = 50) or SPCT-BH (n = 50). Radiation doses were documented. One reader measured pulmonary artery attenuation and noise; mean signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) was calculated. Two readers assessed image quality, diagnostic confidence for detection of PE, motion artifacts, assessability of anatomical structures, and presence of transient interruption of contrast as sign of Valsalva maneuver. Inter-reader agreement was calculated. RESULTS Radiation dose was significantly lower in HPCT compared to SPCT (2.68 ± 0.60 mGy vs 6.01 ± 2.26 mGy; P < .001). Mean pulmonary artery attenuation and image noise were significantly higher in HPCT (attenuation: 479 Hounsfield unit (HU) vs 343HU; P < .001; noise: 16 HU vs 10 HU; P < .001) whereas SNR was similar between groups (34 HU vs 38 HU; P = .258). HPCT had significantly higher diagnostic confidence for PE detection (P = .048), less cardiac and breathing artifacts (P < .001), better assessability of anatomical structures, and fewer cases of transient interruption of contrast (P < .001) compared to the SPCT. CONCLUSIONS HPCT-FB allows for a significant reduction of breathing and motion artifacts compared to SPCT-BH. Diagnostic confidence, assessability of vascular and bronchial structures, as well as SNR are maintained.