Pleural liquid pressure was measured at end expiration in 11 spontaneously breathing anesthetized ponies in the prone and supine positions. A liquid-filled capsule was implanted into a rib to measure pleural liquid pressure with minimal distortion of the pleural space (Wiener-Kronish et al., J. Appl. Physiol. 59: 597-602, 1985). Capsule position relative to lung height was measured from thoracic radiographs taken in each position. In each body position, pleural liquid pressure was most negative in the superior lung regions and least negative in the inferior lung regions. In the supine position, the magnitude of the vertical gradient in pleural liquid pressure was 0.67 cmH2O/cm ht and was not significantly different from 1 cmH2O/cm ht. In the inferior lung regions (less than 50% lung ht), pleural liquid pressure averaged -1.3 cmH2O, indicating a low transpulmonary pressure over the region of the chest where most of the lung mass is located. When animals were in the prone position, the magnitude of the vertical gradient in pleural liquid pressure was 0.14 cmH2O/cm ht and was not statistically different from 0 cmH2O/cm ht. In each body position, mean transpulmonary pressure, measured postmortem, was similar to the estimated magnitude of pleural liquid pressure at 50% lung ht. This suggests that pleural liquid pressure is closely related to pleural surface pressure. These results are consistent with the poor ventilation distribution and reduced lung volumes measured in anesthetized horses in the supine position compared with values measured in horses in the prone position.