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To clarify the effect of hematocrit on the solubility of volatile anesthetics in blood, we measured the blood-gas partition coefficients of isoflurane, enflurane, halothane, and methoxyflurane concurrently at 37°C in blood from four adults. We measured the blood-gas partition coefficients in the plasma (hematocrit 0%) and packed red cell fractions (hematocrit 80%), and in four mixtures of these two fractions (hema-tocrits 10%, 25%, 40%, and 55%). The mixtures were prepared by recombining appropriate amounts of plasma and packed red cells from each adult. As hematocrit increased, the blood-gas partition coefficient of isoflurane decreased linearly (P < 0.01), whereas that of enflurane increased linearly (P < 0.05). The partition coefficient for isoflurane in plasma was 20% greater than that in packed red cells, whereas the partition coefficient for enflurane in plasma was 10% less than that in packed cells. The blood-gas partition coefficients of halothane and methoxyflurane did not change significantly between measurements in plasma and packed red cells. We conclude that hematocrit exerts a statistically significant effect on the blood-gas partition coefficient of isoflurane and enflurane.