During the last 4 decades hypoxic vasoconstriction has been acknowledged as an important pulmonary control mechanism that via matching ventilation and perfusion regulates one of the important physiologic parameters--PaO2. Whether the hypoxic vasoconstriction occurs directly in a localized vascular site with distinct biochemistry or whether it is mediated by a local hormone has not been resolved. Progress has been made because of the introduction of micropuncture techniques that allow direct pressure measurements in small segments of the lung vascular tree. Measurements of the force of contraction and membrane potential (118) and manipulation of the environment of pulmonary microvessels are the most recent progress in the elucidation of the mechanism of hypoxic vasoconstriction. Elements of energy, oxygen, and lipid metabolism appear to contribute to the biochemistry of this elusive response.