Sodium bicarbonate is administered during cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) for the treatment of systemic acidemia. However, the effect of administering standard-dose sodium bicarbonate on the vasopressor effect of epinephrine is unknown. This study compared the effects of sodium bicarbonate or normal saline on the vasopressor effect of epinephrine in 18 pigs. After 10 minutes of unassisted ventricular fibrillation, CPR was started using a pneumatic chest compression device. Two minutes after the start of CPR, sodium bicarbonate (1 mEq/kg) or normal saline (1 mL/kg) was administered into the right ventricule followed 1 minute later by epinephrine (0.2 mg/kg). Defibrillation was attempted at 8 minutes of CPR (18 minutes of ventricular fibrillation). Results demonstrated no significant differences in aortic systolic, aortic diastolic, or coronary perfusion pressure (CPP) between the two groups (1 minute after epinephrine, CPP was 22.6 +/- 13.3 mm Hg versus 21.1 +/- 20.7 mm Hg for the sodium bicarbonate and normal saline groups, respectively). However, when the data were stratified according to pH < 7.4 and pH > 7.4, the peak change in CPP was 12.7 +/- 21 mm Hg when pH < 7.4 and was 5.2 +/- 7.4 when pH > 7.4 (P = .33). Resuscitation was also similar between the two groups (two of nine for sodium bicarbonate and one of nine for normal saline). In conclusion, the standard recommended dose of sodium bicarbonate did not alter the vasopressor effect of epinephrine or resuscitation compared with normal saline in this closed chest model of ventricular fibrillation and CPR.