Speaking at the Reuters Global Financial Regulation Summit in Washington DC, Ms Schapiro said the SEC needs the authority to require hedge fund managers to register with it, as well as having the power to "inspect and examine" hedge funds' books.
She added that the registrations alone "would not be sufficient" to properly regulate the sector and that having additional rulemaking authority would give the SEC the "flexibility to respond to crises as they emerge".
Ms Schapiro said she has spoken with US Treasury secretary Tim Geithner on the issue of hedge regulation and has received his support for registration.
Reuters noted that Mr Geithner also wants hedge funds to publicly disclose their counterparties and leverage to help regulators assess whether a fund poses a systemic risk to the US economy.
House financial services committee chairman Barney Frank told the conference in a separate address that a requirement for fund managers to register with the SEC would be included in a package of financial reforms set to be introduced later this year.