Hypothermia has been shown to decrease oxygen consumption requirements and improve survival during hemorrhagic shock. however, hypothermia applied therapeutically does not prevent the development of a lactic acidosis during hemorrhage. We re-examined the development of a hemorrhage-induced lactic acidosis and other metabolic parameters (glucose, plasma electrolytes, and arterial blood gases) at various temperatures (29-37 degrees C) to better define the protective action of hypothermia in hemorrhagic shock. Five groups of male, Sprague-Dawley rats were bled to a mean arterial blood pressure (MABP) of 40 mmHg over a 15 min period and held there by further blood removal until death. The final level and rate of development of the lactic acidemia was the same in all groups. However, the rate of decline in plasma glucose and rate of rise in plasma potassium were temperature dependent. These results suggest that temperature-dependent changes in serum glucose and potassium may contribute to the protective effect of hypothermia during hemorrhagic shock.