To investigate the time course of superoxide generation in ischemia-reperfusion in the in-vivo rat lung, the present study used an enhanced chemiluminescence method with 2-methyl-6-[p-methoxyphenyl]-3,7-dihydroimidazo[1, 2-alpha]pyrazin-3-one (MCLA) as a specific probe. The right pulmonary artery was occluded for 120 min, followed by 90-min reperfusion. Chemiluminescence induced by MCLA was continuously monitored by a photomultiplier exposed to the right lung. Chemiluminescence increased gradually in 30 min of reperfusion and remained elevated throughout reperfusion. The ratio of the luminescence count during reperfusion to the preischemic value increased to 2.20+/-0.31 (mean+/-SEM) (p<0.02 vs preischemic level), 2.50+/-0.39 (p<0.005), and 2.69+/-0.44 (p<0.005), at 30, 60, and 90 min of reperfusion, respectively. Bolus administration of superoxide dismutase during the reperfusion period significantly attenuated the chemiluminescence by 45.0+/-6.7% (p<0.01). The present results suggest that increasing oxygen radical formation leading to ischemia-reperfusion lung injury may occur even after a short period of occlusion of the pulmonary artery alone in vivo.