This study describes our experience from 1960 onwards of 222 patients suffering from terminal chronic respiratory failure; we report our results of domiciliary mechanical ventilation for 11-17 hours per day using tracheotomy. The method was easy to use at home at a reasonable cost and was far less than in a medical environment. The results were excellent both for length of survival and quality of life for all cases where respiratory failure was due to chest wall problems (neurological, muscular or restrictive syndromes due to chest deformity). The majority of cases were sequelae of polio, myopathies, kyphoscoliosis or tuberculosis. The results were less good for patients with intrinsic pulmonary disease such as chronic airflow obstruction; for this the superiority of mechanical ventilation compared to long term oxygen therapy is not proven. The results were very poor for patients suffering from bronchial dilatation. However, a positive correlation between the efficacy of the method and the duration of a normal PaO2 during a 24 hour period seemed to exist, both during periods of mechanical ventilation and weaning from the machine.