1. A new open-circuit respiratory method was developed to estimate mixed venous Pco2 more rapidly and accurately than is possible with rebreathing techniques.
2. The subject breathes a mixture of CO2 in air from an open circuit. Carbon dioxide is added to the air flowing through the circuit at a rate such that the Pco2 in the inspired and expired gases (recorded continuously with a CO2 analyser) are almost identical.
3. Results from respiratory and cardiac patients showed that equilibrium occurred in less than 10 s. There was good agreement between the tensions of CO2 in the respiratory plateaux and in mixed venous and arterial blood withdrawn during equilibrium.
4. During exercise, the tensions of CO2 of the plateaux and arterial blood at equilibrium also showed good agreement.
5. It is suggested that the new method represents an improvement over rebreathing methods as equilibrium is achieved rapidly before the mixed venous tension rises from recirculation.