Body cooling, respiratory heat loss, and the physiological effects of liquid ventilation at various temperatures were studied in 10 adult cats with applications to the deep sea diver. The animals were stabilized on mechanical gas ventilation with 100% oxygen during a control period and then mechanically ventilated for 1 h with liquid fluorocarbon. Fluorocarbon (Rimar 101) temperatures of 10 degrees C, 20 degrees C, and 30 degrees C were used to ventilate the animals while rectal and subcutaneous body temperatures were being measured. For the 3 temperature conditions, respective cooling rates of 9.0 degrees C/h, 7.8 degrees C/h, and 3.6 degrees C/h, as well as respiratory heat losses of 65,637 J X kg-1 X h-1, 33,488 J X kg-1, X h-1, 18,036 J X kg-1 X h-1 were observed while maintaining effective physiological gas exchange [mean PaO2 = 353 +/- 28 (SEM) mmHg, mean PaCO2 = 30 +/- 2 (SEM) mmHg]. Changes in cardiovascular variables were noted as mild (35 degrees C-30 degrees C) and moderate (30 degrees C-25 degrees C) levels of hypothermia were reached. Cardiac output, oxygen consumption, heart rate, and mean blood pressure were significantly correlated with rectal temperature. The data presented herein quantitate the effects of liquid ventilation on body cooling and respiratory heat loss. Furthermore, the physiological alterations associated with the observed hypothermic condition could severely limit the effectiveness of a human diver if not carefully controlled.