1. Previous work from this laboratory has indicated that the mesencephalon is the anatomical substrate for a mechanism capable of inhibiting central respiratory drive in glomectomized cats for periods of up to 1 h or more following brief exposure to systemic hypoxia; phrenic nerve activity was used as an index of central respiratory drive. 2. The present study was undertaken to further localize the region responsible for the observed post‐hypoxic inhibition of respiratory drive. We studied the phrenic nerve response to stimulations of the mesencephalon in anaesthetized, paralysed peripherally chemo‐denervated cats with end‐expired PCO2 and body temperature servo‐controlled. 3. Stimulations of two types were employed. Electrical stimulation allowed rapid determination of sites from which phrenic inhibition could be elicited. Microinjections of excitatory amino acids were used subsequently in order to confine excitation to neuronal cell bodies and not axons of passage. 4. Stimulation of discrete regions of the ventromedial aspect of the mesencephalon in the vicinity of the red nucleus produced substantial inhibition of phrenic activity which lasted up to 45 min. Stimulation of other areas of the mesencephalon either produced no phrenic inhibition or resulted in a slight stimulation of phrenic activity. 5. The results are discussed in the context of the central respiratory response to hypoxia.
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