The transcutaneous oxygen tension was monitored continuously by a heated cutaneous polarographic electrode in 7 adult intensive care patients, 12 patients without circulatory insufficiency, and 5 healthy volunteers, Arterial pO2 values were varied from hypoxaemia to normoxaemia and hyperoxaemia by variations of the inspired oxygen concentration. In normal volunteers and in patients without circulatory failure, transcutaneous pO2 indicated on an average about 81-92% of the arterial pO2 in normoxaemia and hyperoxaemia with a correlation coefficient of 0.97. In hypoxaemia there was an over-proportional decrease of the transcutaneous pO2 to a mean value of 44% fo the arterial pO2. In one case the transcutaneous pO2 reproducibly dropped to zero at paO2 values of 41 respectively 38 mm Hg (5.5 respectively 5.1 kPa). In intensive care patients the transcutaneous pO2 values were considerably lower than the paO2 values. There was no constant transcutaneous to arterial pO2 ration in most of the intensive care patients at different pO2 levels. In adults without disturbance of peripheral perfusion paO2 can be predicted with satisfactory accuracy from transcutaneous pO2 values in normoxaemia and in hyperoxaemia. In hypoxaemia and in circulatory insufficiency, the transcutaneous pO2 is only an indicator of the trend of the arterial pO2. Under these conditions it does not allow a quantitative estimate of paO2 changes.