Patients with noncardiogenic pulmonary edema requiring ventilatory assistance are usually supported with CPPV using positive end-expiratory pressure (PEEP), but CPPV requires endotracheal intubation and may decrease cardiac output (QT). The purpose of this study was to examine thoracoabdominal continuous negative pressure ventilation (CNPV) using external negative end-expiratory pressure (NEEP). The effects on gas exchange and hemodynamics were compared with those of CPPV with PEEP, with the premise that CNPV might sustain venous return and improve QT. In 6 supine, anesthetized and paralyzed dogs with oleic-acid-induced pulmonary edema, 30 min of CNPV was alternated twice with 30 min of CPPV. Positive and negative pressure ventilation were carefully matched for fractional inspired oxygen concentration (FIO2 = 0.56), breathing frequency, and tidal volume. In addition, we matched the increase in delta FRC obtained with the constant distending pressures produced by both modes of ventilation. An average of -9 cm H2O of NEEP produced the same delta FRC as 10.8 cm H2O of PEEP. Gas exchange did not differ significantly between the 2 modes. However, QT was 15.8% higher during CNPV than during CPPV (p less than 0.02). Mixed venous oxygen saturation also improved during CNPV compared with that during CPPV (58.3 versus 54.5%, p less than 0.01). Negative pressure ventilation using NEEP may be a viable alternative to positive pressure ventilation with PEEP in the management of critically ill patients with noncardiogenic pulmonary edema. It offers comparable improvement in gas exchange with the advantages of less cardiac depression and the possible avoidance of endotracheal intubation.