Eighteen patients with meconium aspiration syndrome who failed conventional management were treated with extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) for reversible respiratory failure. Dynamic lung compliance measurements were made prior to, during, and after ECMO support. P(A-a)O2 and oxygenation index (OI) measurements were calculated prior to and after ECMO support. Lung compliance decreased significantly comparing before-ECMO to during-ECMO, and increased significantly comparing during- to after-ECMO, but not comparing before- to after-ECMO measurements. P(A-a)O2 and OI decreased significantly from before to after ECMO. The improvement in oxygenation allowing removal from ECMO does not appear to be related to improved pulmonary mechanics, but may rather be secondary to increased effective pulmonary capillary blood flow.