The effects of hypercapnia and hypocapnia on the activities of the cardiac and pulmonary vagal single fibers were examined in the decerebrated, unanesthetized, paralyzed, and vagotomized cats. The animals breathed 100% O2. Fractional end tidal CO2 concentration was raised to 9% by adding CO2 into the O2 inlet. Average discharge rate of efferent cardiac vagal units (n=10) increased from 1.0+/-0.3 to 2.2+/-0.3 Hz. Hypocapnia apnea was produced by hyperventilation. Activities of cardiac vagal units tested (n = 4) showed dramatic decrease (0.1+/-0.0 Hz). Mean arterial blood pressure did not change significantly under these conditions. In contrast, only instantaneous firing rate during inspiration was significantly increased for efferent pulmonary vagal units (n = 11) during hypercapnia. The activities of the 3 pulmonary vagal units tested with hypocapnia decreased significantly. We concluded that cardiac and pulmonary vagal neurons were excited by chemoreceptor input.