Airway pressure and air flow were measured at the endotracheal tube in 13 children on a variety of ventilators. These signals were stored for analysis on a computer. Further data sets were obtained after 24 hours or following major interventions. Air flow rate was integrated to give volume. Pulmonary resistance and elastance were obtained by multiple linear regression. Pressure-volume, pressure-flow and flow-volume loops were plotted. "Closed" pressure-volume and pressure-flow loops (by subtraction of the resistive or elastic pressure components, respectively) were also displayed, giving compliance and resistance loops. The loops from the initial data set were taken as the baseline, and loops from later data sets were superimposed to provide visual comparisons. Change in clinical status was reflected by the change in slope of compliance and resistance loops. A 30% change in compliance or resistance was easily observed. There was minimal interference with patient care. This pilot study demonstrates that changes in respiratory mechanics can be displayed safely and easily in ventilated patients using resistance and compliance loops. Further work is necessary to confirm the usefulness of real time of these displays.