Systemic and pulmonary hemodynamics have been studied during the induction of brain death in the chacma baboon. In 11 animals brain death was induced by acute intracranial hypertension. Continuous recording of blood flow through both the pulmonary artery and the aorta was obtained by electromagnetic flow meters placed around these vessels. Mean arterial, central venous, pulmonary arterial, and left atrial pressures were recorded continuously. Systemic and pulmonary vascular resistances were calculated. During the agonal period marked sympathetic activity occurred, with significant increases in circulating catecholamines and systemic vascular resistance. The great increase in systemic resistance resulted in acute left ventricular failure. Mean left atrial or pulmonary capillary wedge pressure rose above the mean pulmonary arterial pressure in 9 animals. As the systemic vascular resistance rose, a significant difference between pulmonary artery and aortic blood flows occurred, leading to blood pooling within the lungs. A mean of 72% of the total blood volume of the animal accumulated within these organs. The increase of left atrial pressure to levels higher than pulmonary artery pressure indicated a state of pulmonary capillary blood flow arrest. This, associated with the blood pooling within the lungs, almost certainly resulted in disruption of the anatomic integrity of the pulmonary capillaries (blast injury); 4 animals developed pulmonary edema, with alveolar septal interstitial hemorrhage. © 1987, The Society of Thoracic Surgeons. All rights reserved.