The purpose of this study was to examine the experience of patients who required mechanical ventilation. A qualitative method of inquiry was used to generate rich descriptive data. Twelve informants were recruited. All of the informants were adults (18 years of age and over) and had used a mechanical ventilator for a minimum of 18 hours. All interviews were audiotaped and transcribed verbatim. Themes were extracted from the transcriptions and organized into clusters. Fifteen clusters were identified. Fourteen clusters track the experience of mechanical ventilation from intubation to extubation. The fifteenth cluster offers recommendations from patients. This study concluded that health care providers, especially nurses, control the type of experience that mechanically ventilated patients have. © 1994, Sage Publications. All rights reserved.