The present paper describes the influence of cross talk from the abdominal and intercostal muscles on the canine diaphragm electromyogram (EMG). The diaphragm EMG was recorded with bipolar surface electrodes placed on the costal portion of the diaphragm (abdominal side), aligned in the fiber direction, and positioned in a region with a relatively low density of motor end plates. The results indicated that cross talk may occur in the diaphragm EMG, especially during conditions of loaded breathing and light general anesthesia. The cross-talk signals showed characteristics that were entirely different from the diaphragm EMG. Although the diaphragm EMG was typical for signals recorded with electrodes aligned in the fiber direction, the cross-talk signals were characteristic of those obtained with electrode pairs not aligned in the direction of the muscle fibers. Alterations in electrode positioning, interelectrode distance, and/or electrode surface area cannot guarantee the elimination of cross-talk signals, whereas spinal anesthesia at a high thoracic level will paralyze the sources of the cross talk and hence eliminate the cross-talk signals. By taking advantage of the differences in EMG signal characteristics for the diaphragm EMG and cross-talk signals, an index that has the capability to detect cross talk was developed.