1. The distribution of regional function in the lungs of six patients with bilateral diaphragmatic paralysis was investigated by continuous inhalation and infusion of the radioactive gases 81mKr and 85mKr during tidal breathing.
2. In the supine and right lateral decubitus postures the vertical distribution of ventilation per unit alveolar volume was less in the dependent zones, the reverse of that found in normal subjects. In the upright posture ventilation was slightly decreased at the lung base. Perfusion per unit alveolar volume was more uniformly distributed than normally in the upright posture, and decreased from superior to inferior in the supine posture. In the lateral decubitus posture, perfusion of the lower lung was greater than that of the upper. Ventilation/perfusion ratios were more uniformly distributed in the patients than in normal subjects, except in the right lateral decubitus posture.
3. Alterations in the distribution of ventilation may be explained in terms of the altered mechanical interaction of chest wall, mediastinal and abdominal contents, with selective use of intercostal and accessory muscles. The effects on the distribution of blood flow are probably related to the low end-expiratory lung volume.