Attenuation of ventilator-synchronous pressure fluctuations of intracranial pressure has been demonstrated during high frequency ventilation in animal and human studies, but the consequences of this effect on cerebral blood flow have not been investigated in man. We compared the effects of high frequency jet ventilation and intermittent positive pressure ventilation of CBF in 24 patients investigated three hours after completion of open-heart surgery. The patients were investigated during three consecutive periods with standard sedation (morphine, pancuronium): a. IPPV; b. HFJV; c. IPPV. Partial pressure of arterial CO2(PaCO2: 4.5-5.5 kPa) and rectal temperature (35.5 to 37.5°C) were maintained constant during the study. The CBF was measured by intravenous 133Xe washout technique. The following variables were derived from the cerebral clearance of 133Xe: the rapid compartment flow, the initial slope index, ie, a combination of the rapid and the slow compartment flows, and the ratio of fast compartment flow over total CBF (FF). Compared to IPPV, HFJV applied to result in the same mean airway pressure did not produce any change in pulmonary gas exchange, mean systemic arterial pressure, and cardiac index. Similarly, CBF was not significantly altered by HFJV. However, important variations of CBF values were observed in three patients, although the classic main determinants of CBF (PaCO2), cerebral perfusion pressure, Paw, temperature) remained unchanged. Our results suggest that in patients with normal systemic hemodynamics, the effects of HFJV and IPPV on CBF are comparable at identical levels of mean airway pressure.