To confirm the presence of apneusis in patients with hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy and to clarify which factors influence their respiratory patterns, polygraphic studies were performed on two patients. Apneusis was clinically suspected in both patients who had severe brainstem damage. In one subject, inputs of vagal afferents from the gastrointestinal tract and the urinary bladder often resulted in extreme tachypnea instead of apneusis. Lung inflation facilitated expiration during inspiratory arrest. Expiration preceded a periodic inhibition of rigospastic discharge in the right biceps muscle. In the other subject, prolonged inspiratory pauses with cyanosis occurred with or without preceding epileptic seizure. Both phenytoin dose reduction and treatment with tandospirone, a serotonin-1A agonist, were effective in improving the respiratory distress in this subject.