Effects of increased external dead space (VD) on ventilatory control in steady-state exercise were determined in three healthy adults. The subjects performed cycle ergometer exercise on six occasions, each with a different VD (range: 0.1--1.0 liter); work rate was incremented every 5 min by 15--20 W. Minute ventilation (VE), CO2 output (VCO2), and mean alveolar PCO2 (PACO2) were measured in the steady state. Without VD, the VE-VCO2 relationship was linear, having a small positive VE intercept, and PACO2 was constant, independent of VCO2. Increased VD was associated with an upward shift of the VE-VCO2 relationship, and an elevated PACO2, again independent of VCO2. At each work rate, the increases in VE accompanying increased VD were no greater than could be expected from a conventional CO2 inhalation study. It is concluded that increasing external dead space does not impair the ability of the human respiratory system to regulate PACO2 during exercise except for resetting the regulated PCO2 level.