Recently, it has been recognized that a single airway sensory unit may contain multiple receptive fields and that each field houses at least one encoder. Since some units respond to both lung inflation and deflation, we hypothesized that these units contain heterogeneous encoders for sensing inflation and deflation, respectively. Single unit activities were recorded from the cervical vagus nerve in anesthetized, open chest, and mechanically ventilated rabbits. Fifty-two airway sensory units with multiple receptive fields that responded to both lung inflation and deflation were identified. Among them, 13 units had separate receptive fields for inflation and deflation, where one of the fields could be blocked by local injection of 2% lidocaine (10 μl). In 8 of the 13 units, the deflation response was blocked without affecting the unit's response to inflation, whereas in the remaining five units, the inflation response was blocked without affecting the deflation response. Our results support the hypothesis that a single mechanosensory unit may contain heterogeneous encoders that can respond to either inflation or deflation.