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It would be valuable to have a noninvasive method of measuring impaired pulmonary gas exchange in patients with lung disease and thus reduce the need for repeated arterial punctures. This study reports the results of using a new test in a group of outpatients attending a pulmonary clinic.Inspired and expired partial pressure of oxygen (PO2) and Pco2 are continually measured by small, rapidly responding analyzers. The arterial PO2 is calculated from the oximeter blood oxygen saturation level and the oxygen dissociation curve. The PO2 difference between the end-tidal gas and the calculated arterial value is called the oxygen deficit.Studies on 17 patients with a variety of pulmonary diseases are reported. The mean ± SE oxygen deficit was 48.7 ± 3.1 mm Hg. This finding can be contrasted with a mean oxygen deficit of 4.0 ± 0.88 mm Hg in a group of 31 normal subjects who were previously studied (P < .0001). The analysis emphasizes the value of measuring the composition of alveolar gas in determining ventilation-perfusion ratio inequality. This factor is largely ignored in the classic index of impaired pulmonary gas exchange using the ideal alveolar PO2 to calculate the alveolar-arterial oxygen gradient.The results previously reported in normal subjects and the present studies suggest that this new noninvasive test will be valuable in assessing abnormal gas exchange in the clinical setting.