In behaving rats, unit activity in the mitral and granule cell layers of the olfactory bulb (OB) can be modulated by respiration. In order to determine whether central influences could take part in this phenomenon, respiratory rhythm and the activity of OB units were recorded in the present experiment and analyzed temporally in 18 anaesthetized tracheotomized rats. In spite of the interrupted nasal airflow, 30 of the 80 cells recorded in the mitral and granule cell layers, still displayed a significant respiratory patterning of their activity. Maximal neuronal discharges were time-locked with different phases of the respiratory cycle, most often synchronized with the end of expiration. This is in contrast with previous observations in intact animals. Possible underlying mechanisms are discussed.