The Hayek Oscillator is a recent development in external high frequency ventilation and is a useful mode of ventilatory support during anaesthesia, in chronic respiratory failure and weaning in intensive care. The Hayek Oscillator is new and its application is growing, as are the number of patients who have benefited from its use. However, there are no clear guidelines on how best to adjust the oscillator to achieve optimum ventilation. A simple method of predicting changes in tidal volume and minute ventilation following adjustment would make the oscillator more useful. We present nomograms for tidal volume, minute ventilation and effective alveolar ventilation when the three variables, oscillator frequency, mean chamber pressure and peak-to-trough pressure span were adjusted. The frequency-tidal volume relationship was unaffected by a mean chamber pressure of 0, -5, -10 cmH2O, but altered with changes in peak-to-trough pressure span. We have also determined the effect of increasing negative extrathoracic pressure on functional residual capacity. The relationship between tidal volume and frequency was non-linear and related to the peak-to-trough pressure span. Mean functional residual capacity significantly increased from 2.25 l (SEM 0.10) without the cuirass at rest to 2.61 l (SEM 0.14) at -10 cmH2O (p < 0.05; n = 5) and 2.47 (SEM 0.12) at -20 cmH2O of mean chamber pressure. Vital capacity was unchanged by increasing extrathoracic pressure as was total lung capacity.