To evaluate the role of energy state in pulmonary vascular responses to hypoxia, we exposed isolated pig lungs to decreases in inspired PO2 or increases in perfusate NaCN concentration. Lung energy state was assessed by 31P nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy or measurement of adenine nucleotides by high-pressure liquid chromatography in freeze-clamped biopsies. In ventilated lungs, inspired PO2 of 200 (normoxia), 50 (hypoxia), and 0 Torr (anoxia) did not change adenine nucleotides but resulted in steady-state pulmonary arterial pressure (Ppa) values of 15.5 +/- 1.4, 30.3 +/- 1.8, and 17.2 +/- 1.9 mmHg, respectively, indicating vasoconstriction during hypoxia and reversal of vasoconstriction during anoxia. In degassed lungs, similar changes in Ppa were observed; however, energy state deteriorated during anoxia. An increase in perfusate NaCN concentration from 0 to 0.1 mM progressively increased Ppa and did not alter adenine nucleotides, whereas 1 mM reversed this vasoconstriction and caused deterioration of energy state. These results suggest that 1) pulmonary vasoconstrictor responses to hypoxia or cyanide occurred independently of whole lung energy state, 2) the inability of the pulmonary vasculature to sustain hypoxic vasoconstriction during anoxia might be associated with decreased energy state in some lung compartment, and 3) atelectasis was detrimental to whole lung energy state.