We investigated the effects of surgical peripheral chemoreceptor denervation, chemical sympathectomy with 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA), and the peripheral chemoreceptor stimulant almitrine on multipoint pulmonary arterial pressure-cardiac index (PAP/Q) plots in 30 pentobarbital sodium-anesthetized dogs ventilated alternatively in hyperoxia [fraction of inspired O2, (FIO2) = 0.4] and hypoxia (FIO2 = 0.1). A hypoxic pulmonary vasoconstriction (HPV), i.e., a hypoxia-induced increase in PAP over the entire range of Q studied, from 2 to 5 l.min-1.m-2, was elicited in all the animals. Surgical denervation of the carotid and aortic chemoreceptors in a first group of nine dogs increased PAP at the lowest Q of 2 and 3 l.min-1.min-2 in hyperoxia and increased PAP at all levels of Q in hypoxia, so that HPV was enhanced. Chemical sympathectomy in a second group of eight dogs increased PAP at all levels of Q to a comparable extent in hyperoxia and hypoxia so that HPV remained unchanged. Almitrine (8 micrograms.kg-1.min-1 iv) in a third group of eight dogs increased PAP at all levels of Q in hyperoxia but had no effect on PAP/Q plots in hypoxia, so that HPV was inhibited. Almitrine had these same pulmonary vascular effects when administered to the chemodenervated and the sympathectomized dogs. Sham operation and a 2-h delay in a final group of five dogs had no effect on hyperoxic or hypoxic PAP/Q plots. We conclude that in intact dogs 1) the sympathetic nervous system reduces both hyperoxic and hypoxic pulmonary vascular tone, 2) stimulation of the peripheral chemoreceptors inhibits HPV, and 3) almitrine has direct pulmonary vasoconstricting effects in hyperoxia but not hypoxia.