In occlusive cerebrovascular disease cerebral blood flow (CBF) autoregulation can be impaired and constant CBF during fluctuations in blood pressure (BP) cannot be guaranteed. Therefore, an assessment of cerebral autoregulation should consider not only responsiveness to CO2 or Diamox. Passive tilting (PT) and Valsalva maneuver (VM) are established tests for cardiovascular autoregulatory function by provoking BP changes. To develop a comprehensive test for vasomotor reactivity with a potential increase of sensitivity and specificity, the authors combined these maneuvers. Blood pressure, corrected to represent arterial pressure at the level of the circle of Willis, middle cerebral artery Doppler frequencies (DF), heart rate (HR) and endtidal partial pressure of CO2 (PtCO2) were measured continuously and noninvasively in 81 healthy subjects (19-74 years). Passive tilt and Valsalva maneuver were performed under normocapnia (mean, 39 + 4 mmHg CO2) and under hypercapnia (mean, 51 + 5 mm Hg CO2). Resting BP, HR, and DF increased significantly under hypercapnia. Under normocapnia and hypercapnia, PT induced only minor, nonsignificant changes in mean BP at the level of the circle of Willis compared to baseline (normocapnia: + 2 + 15 mm Hg; hypercapnia: -3 +/- 13 mm Hg). This corresponded with a nonsignificant decrease of the mean of DF (normocapnia: -4 +/- 11%; hypercapnia -6 +/- 12%). Orthostasis reduced pulsatility of BP by a predominantly diastolic increase of BP without significant changes in pulsatility of DF. Valsalva maneuver, with its characteristic rapid changes of BP due to elevated intrathoracic pressure, showed no significant BP differences in changes to baseline between normocapnic and hypercapnic conditions. Under both conditions the decrease in BP in phase II was accompanied by significantly increased pulsatility index ratio (PIDF/PIBP). Valsalva maneuver and PT as established tests in autonomic control of circulation provoked not only changes in time-mean of BP but also in pulsatility of BP. The significant increase in pulsatility ratio and decrease of the DF/BP ratio during normocapnia and hypercapnia indicated preserved CBF autoregulation within a wide range of CO2 partial pressures. Hypercapnia did not significantly influence the autoregulatory indices during VM and PT. Physiologically submaximally dilated cerebral arterioles can guarantee unchanged dynamics of cerebral autoregulation. Combined BP and MCA-DF assessment under hypercapnia enables investigating the effect of rapid changes of blood pressure on CO2-induced predilated cerebral arterioles. Assuming no interference of hypercapnia-induced vasodilation, VM, with its rapid, distinct changes in BP, seems especially to be adequate provocation for CBF autoregulation. This combined vasomotor reactivity might provide a more sensitive diagnostic tool to detect impaired cerebral autoregulation very early.