A method of evaluating pulmonary ventilation with a 57-cm image intensifier/television (II/TV) digital chest system is reported. With this method, the patient inhales a mixture of xenon and oxygen gases while dynamic imaging of the chest is done. Images of the airways and ventilated portions of the lungs are obtained by subtraction of images acquired before and after the xenon-oxygen mixture is administered. The feasibility of the method was evaluated by studies with xenon-filled tubes, an airway phantom, and a ventilation phantom. The results indicate that tubes larger than 3.2 mm in diameter are detectable at a xenon concentration of 41%, and that gas flow and flow distribution can be examined after image subtraction. If background subtraction is incomplete because of motion, the visibility of small airways is reduced greatly, although unventilated regions can still be delineated. The initial evaluation of this technique included imaging a healthy volunteer during xenon inhalation.