A reimplantation or reperfusion response has been described in both the experimental animal and the human patient after various procedures involving pulmonary ischemia. We have investigated this phenomenon in a primate model. Ten chacma baboons were placed on cardiopulmonary bypass and cooled to 20 degrees C. Circumferential segments of the right main bronchus and pulmonary artery were denuded of all surrounding tissue. Each structure was then cross-clamped, which rendered the lung ischemic, during which time the organ was immersed in cold saline solution. Ischemia was maintained for 1.5 to 5 hours; after reperfusion and discontinuation of bypass, the right lung was biopsied and the chest closed. Chest radiographs, lung biopsies, and arterial blood gases were taken at intervals for up to 16 to 28 days. Right lung shadowing on chest radiography with concomitant histopathologic changes, indicative of a reperfusion reaction, were seen in only one animal, which had undergone lung ischemia for 1.5 hours. In one other animal that was ischemic for 5 hours, patchy opacification of the lung was seen on two occasions (days 8 and 15) with concomitant mild histopathologic changes. In conclusion, therefore, a major reperfusion response after pulmonary ischemia in the chacma baboon is possible but unusual. This would suggest that the appearance of pulmonary opacification on chest radiography within the first 4 weeks after heart-lung transplantation in humans is most likely attributable to some other condition, such as isolated lung rejection or infection.