Research in the mechanics of soft tissue, and lung tissue in particular, has emphasized that dissipative processes depend predominantly on the viscous stress. A corollary is that dissipative losses may be expressed as a tissue viscous resistance, (Rti). An alternative approach is offered by the structural damping hypothesis, which holds that dissipative processes within soft tissue depend directly more on the elastic stress than on the viscous stress. This implies that dissipative and elastic processes within lung tissues are coupled at a fundamental level. We induced alterations of Rti by exposing canines to aerosols of the constrictors prostaglandin F2 alpha, histamine, and methacholine and by changing volume history. Using the structural damping paradigm, we could separate those alterations in Rti into the product of two distinct contributions: change in the coefficient of coupling of dissipation to elastance (eta) and change in the elastance itself (Edyn). Response of Edyn accounted for most of the response of resistance associated with contractile stimulation; it accounted for almost all the response associated with differences in volume history. The eta changed appreciably with constriction but accounted for little of the response of Rti with volume history. According to the structural damping hypothesis, induced changes in eta with constriction must reflect changes in the kinetics of the stress-bearing process, i.e., differences in cross-bridge kinetics within the target contractile cell and/or differences in the influence of the target cell on other stress-bearing systems. We conclude that, regardless of underlying processes, the structural damping analysis demonstrates a fundamental phenomenological simplification: when Edyn responds, Rti is obligated to respond to a similar degree.