"Declamping shock" is observed after aortic crossclamping, with hypovolemia, hypotension, and metabolic acidemia invariably present. We hypothesized that oxidants derived from xanthine oxidase influence the resuscitative interventions required to maintain baseline hemodynamic and acid-base status after aortic occlusion and reperfusion in rabbits. We also hypothesized that inactivation of xanthine oxidase with sodium tungstate could reduce systemic injury as assessed by the release of lactate dehydrogenase and alkaline phosphatase. To test these hypotheses, we established aortic occlusion in rabbits (n = 10, standard diet; n = 8, tungstate diet) for 40 minutes by inflation of a 4F Fogarty catheter in the descending thoracic aorta followed by 2 hours of reperfusion. Sham-operated rabbits (n = 10, standard diet; n = 9, tungstate diet) served as controls. Tungstate-pretreated rabbits required significantly less Ringer's solution (28%), phenylephrine (68%), and sodium bicarbonate (30%) during reperfusion (p < 0.005). Lactate dehydrogenase and alkaline phosphatase release during reperfusion was significantly attenuated by tungstate pretreatment (p < 0.05). Tungstate pretreatment resulted in plasma xanthine oxidase activities significantly lower than those in the sham group administered a standard diet (p = 0.007). Resuscitation requirements and systemic injury were reduced by inactivation of xanthine oxidase in a rabbit model that simulates the situation of human thoracic aorta operations. (J THORAC CARDIOVASC SURG 1995;110-22). © 1995 Mosby, Inc. All rights reserved.