The gas exchange and hemodynamics were evaluated before, during, and after a two-hour period of prone position in 13 moderate-severe ARDS patients. Lung computerized tomography was obtained in both the supine and prone positions in two of these patients. Average arterial oxygenation improved after prone positioning (p less than 0.01). A PaO2 improvement of at least 10 mm Hg after 30 minutes of prone position was used as a criterion to discriminate between responders and nonresponders to the postural change. Eight patients met the "responders" group criterion, and in the five nonresponder patients, the PaO2 did not change significantly throughout the study. Computerized tomograms in the prone position showed disappearance of posterobasal densities and appearance of new densities in the anterior regions, in both patients studied. One of these was a responder, the other a nonresponder. A brief test period in prone position is indicated in ARDS patients to identify those who may benefit from this postural treatment. The definite mechanism of the arterial oxygenation improvement observed remains to be clarified.