PURPOSE In vitro, halogenated agents reduce the pulmonary vasoconstrictor response to alveolar hypoxia in isolated perfused lungs. However, studies in intact animals have been less convincing. The aim of the present study was to assess the effect of sub-MAC concentrations of desflurane on hypoxic pulmonary vasoconstriction (HPV) in anesthetized piglets using the pressure/cardiac output relationship (P/Q). METHODS Eleven large white piglets were anesthetized and ventilated mechanically, alternatively in hyperoxia (FIO2=0.4) and in hypoxia (FIO2=0.12). Multipoint plots of pulmonary arterial pressure (PAP), or differences between PAP and left atrial pressure (LAP) against Q were generated by gradual inflation of a balloon advanced into the inferior vena cava. P/Q relationships were established in hyperoxia and in hypoxia at baseline, and then with gradual concentrations of desflurane. RESULTS In hypoxia, pressure gradients (PAP-LAP) increased significantly at every level of Q, demonstrating active pulmonary vasoconstriction. Desflurane did not affect these P/Q relationships either in hyperoxia, or in hypoxia, when compared with baseline. CONCLUSION Desflurane at a clinically relevant dose has no significant effect on HPV in anesthetized piglets.