In awake sheep, we compared the responses of lung lymph flow and lymph and plasma protein concentrations to steady state elevations of pulmonary vascular pressures made by inflating a left atrial balloon with those after an intravenous infusion of 105-1010Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Lymph flow increased when pressure was increased, but lymph-plasma protein concentration ratios always fell and lymph protein flow (lymph flow × lymph protein concentration) increased only slightly. After Pseudomonas, sheep had transient chills, fever, leukopenia, hypoxemia, increased pulmonary artery pressure and lymph flow and decreased left atrial pressure and lymph protein concentration, 3-5 h after Pseudomonas, when vascular pressures and lymph protein concentrations had returned to near base line, lymph flow increased further to 3-10 times base line and remained at a steady level for many hours. During this steady state period, lymph-plasma protein concentration ratios were similar to base line and lymph protein flow was higher than in the increased pressure studies. Two sheep died of pulmonary edema 7 and 9 h after Pseudomonas, but in 16 studies, five other sheep appeared well during the period of highest lymph flow and all variables returned to base line in 24-72 h. Six serial indicator dilution lung water studies in five sheep changed insignificantly from base line after Pseudomonas. Postmortem lung water was high in the two sheep dead of pulmonary edema and one other, but six sheep killed 1-6 h after Pseudomonas had normal lung water. Because of the clear difference between the effects of increased pressure and Pseudomonas on lymphplasma protein concentration ratios and lymph protein flow, we conclude that Pseudomonas causes a prolonged increase in lung vessel permeability to protein. Because we saw lung lymph flow as high as 10 times base line without pulmonary edema, we conclude that lung lymphatics are a sensitive high-capacity mechanism for removing excess filtered fluid. An equivalent pore model of sheep lung vessels suggests that the changes we saw after Pseudomonas could result from small changes in the structure of exchanging vessel walls.