The purpose of this study was to determine whether pretreatment of rabbits with bleomycin would modify their response to 100% O2 and, if so, to identify the mechanism of this action. A single intratracheal injection of bleomycin (5 U/kg) resulted in a transient decrease of the arterial PO2, its mean value (± SE) 7 days postinjection being 59 ± 3 Torr. All animals were either killed or exposed to 100% O2 35 days postinjection. At this time, arterial PO2 had returned to its control level. On the other hand, lung hydroxyproline content had doubled and static compliance and the total lung capacity had decreased by 22 and 31%, respectively, indicating the existence of significant lung fibrosis. Furthermore, activities of catalase and superoxide dismutase in lung homogenates were higher than control and were further augmented by exposure to 100% O2 for 64 h. These biochemical changes may account, at least in part, for the mitigation of the toxic effects of hyperoxia, as shown by the delayed appearance of arterial hypoxemia, and the 50% increase in survival time when bleomycin injected rabbits were exposed to 100% O2 35 days postinjection.