The effect of exercise and LBNP countermeasures on the cardiovascular deconditioning response have been evaluated by the study of heart rate variability during progressive LBNP tests before, during (day 15), and after 28 d continuous 6 degrees head-down tilt bed rest. Twelve healthy men (age 27-42 years) were studied in two groups. Six were assigned to a countermeasure regime (CM) consisting of strenuous short-term resistance exercise once per day, 6 days per week from day 7 to day 28, combined with lower body negative pressure (LBNP, -28 mm Hg) for 15 min on days 16, 18, 20, and 22-28. Results were compared with data from six subjects, matched on the basis of maximum oxygen uptake, who received no countermeasures (No-CM). The main effects of bed rest were seen in reductions in RR-interval, and in total spectral power. The results of spectral analysis showed a significant reduction in an index of parasympathetic activity with a nonsignificant increase in a sympathetic indicator. The fractal component of heart rate variability was reduced also, suggesting a change in cardiovascular control mechanisms. Although there were significant differences between CM and No-CM for a number of variables, there were no bed rest by countermeasure interaction effects in the statistical analysis. These results suggested that this particular series of countermeasures was ineffective in preventing at least certain changes indicative of cardiovascular deconditioning with 28 d head-down tilt bed rest.