Effects of hypoxia on cerebral circulation are important for occupational, high-altitude, and aviation medicine. Increased risk of fainting might be attributable to altered cerebral circulation by hypoxia. Dynamic cerebral autoregulation is reportedly impaired immediately by mild hypoxia. However, continuous exposure to hypoxia causes hyperventilation, resulting in hypocapnia. This hypocapnia is hypothesized to restore impaired dynamic cerebral autoregulation with reduced steady-state cerebral blood flow (CBF). However, no studies have examined hourly changes in alterations of dynamic cerebral autoregulation and steady-state CBF during sustained hypoxia. We therefore examined cerebral circulation during 5-h exposure to 15% O2 hypoxia and 21% O2 in 13 healthy volunteers in a sitting position. Waveforms of blood pressure and CBF velocity in the middle cerebral artery were measured using finger plethysmography and transcranial Doppler ultrasonography. Dynamic cerebral autoregulation was assessed by spectral and transfer function analysis. As expected, steady-state CBF velocity decreased significantly from 2 to 5 h of hypoxia, accompanying 2- to 3-Torr decreases in end-tidal CO2 (ETCO2). Furthermore, transfer function gain and coherence in the very-low-frequency range increased significantly at the beginning of hypoxia, indicating impaired dynamic cerebral autoregulation. However, contrary to the proposed hypothesis, indexes of dynamic cerebral autoregulation showed no significant restoration despite ETCO2 reductions, resulting in persistent higher values of very-low-frequency power of CBF velocity variability during hypoxia (214+/-40% at 5 h of hypoxia vs. control) without significant increases in blood pressure variability. These results suggest that sustained mild hypoxia reduces steady-state CBF and continuously impairs dynamic cerebral autoregulation, implying an increased risk of shortage of oxygen supply to the brain.