1. Duplicate measurements were made of mixed venous Pco2 (Pv̄, co2) by two rebreathing methods during steady-state exercise at three power outputs in seven subjects. One method employed a high initial bag CO2 concentration to obtain equilibrium of CO2 in the lung—bag system before recirculation (equilibrium method); in the other, a low initial bag CO2 concentration was used and a statistical method was applied to alveolar Pco2 measurements before recirculation, to obtain the asymptote from the exponential rise in end-tidal Pco2 during rebreathing (exponential method).
2. The reproducibility was similar; sd of duplicate determinations of Pv̄, co2 was 0·15 kPa (1·1 mmHg) for the equilibrium method and 0·20 kPa (1·5 mmHg) for the exponential method. Measurements of Pv̄, co2 by the exponential method were systematically lower than the equilibrium method. When the equilibrium Pv̄, co2 was corrected for the alveolar—arterial (‘downstream’) Pco2 difference, using published values, Pv̄, co2 was similar for both methods.
3. As an alveolar to arterial Pco2 difference did not appear to exist with the exponential method, it is concluded that the previously described disequilibrium between alveolar and arterial Pco2 during rebreathing in exercise is mainly related to prevention of net CO2 movement from the pulmonary capillary blood in the equilibrium method, and is not present when continuous CO2 evolution occurs in the exponential method.