Because of the previous finding of an attenuated hypoxic ventilatory drive in a teenager with severe asthma, the ventilatory responses to hypoxia and hypercapnia were examined during remission in 16 patients with the history of severe asthma. Spirometric and body plethysmographic pulmonary functions were normal or nearly normal just prior to ventilatory drive testing. The ventilatory responses to progressive isocapnic hypoxia and to hyperoxic hypercapnia were studied. Both hypoxic and hypercapnic drives were significantly depressed in the asthmatic patients. Factors known to blunt the ventilatory drives were not present in this group of patients. Hence, the etiology of these changes is unclear. In some patients, these depressed respiratory drives might contribute to hypoventilation, to severe hypoxemia, and to respiratory failure during severe asthma.