1. Simultaneous measurements of mouth pressure at the end of the first 0·1 s of inspiratory occlusion (P0·1) at functional residual capacity and the maximum rate of rise of this pressure (dP/dt max.) were made repeatedly in five normal subjects during resting respiration; the coefficient of variation of dP/dt max. was 36·2%, compared with 50·6% for P0·1.

2. During both isocapnic hypoxia and hyperoxic hypercapnia in five normal subjects there was a close correlation between ventilation (E) and both P0·1 and dP/dt max., and between end-tidal Pco2 or Po2 and P0·1 and dP/dt max.; during both procedures there was a close correlation between P0·1 and dP/dt max.

3. The time at which dP/dt max. occurred (Tmax.) was not correlated with changes of dP/dt max. in either procedure. Tmax. was greater than 0·12 s in most studies.

4. The regression coefficients of P0·1 and dP/dt max. on E were significantly different in hypoxia as compared with hypercapnia in four out of the five subjects; on repeated hypercapnic stimulation in two out of three subjects these regression coefficients again varied significantly. Changes in lung volume or inspiratory volume-timing relationship were not responsible for these differences. These results suggest that mouth occlusion pressure, as reflected by P0·1 or dP/dt max., is a complex variable, reflecting the motor output of the respiratory centre, but also affected by random variations in the measurements and probably by changes in lung volume.

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