We measured alveolar-to-vascular leakage of surfactant protein A (SP-A) in immature newborn rabbits delivered at a gestational age of 27 days. Experimental animals received, via a tracheal cannula, 2 ml/kg of a mixture of modified porcine surfactant (Curosurf, 80 mg/ml) and human recombinant SP-A (4 mg/ml). Littermate controls received the same volume of human SP-A in saline (4 mg/ml). After 30 min of artificial ventilation with a frequency of 40/min and an inspiration time of either 0.75 or 0.45 s, blood was sampled from the right ventricle and the lungs were lavaged. The content of human SP-A in serum and lung lavage fluid was determined with ELISA kits, and the alveolar-to-vascular leak expressed as the quotient of total SP-A in serum and lavage fluid. The leak in control animals amounted to about 2% of SP-A in lung wash and was several times higher in these animals than in those receiving surfactant. The leak was of the same order irrespective of whether the animals were ventilated with long or short inspiration time. We speculate that serum levels of SP-A may reflect the degree of lung injury in various forms of respiratory failure.