A lumped two-compartment mathematical model of respiratory mechanics incorporating gas exchange and pulmonary circulation is utilized to analyze the effects of square, descending and ascending inspiratory flow waveforms during mechanical ventilation. The effects on alveolar volume variation, alveolar pressure, airway pressure, gas exchange rate, and expired gas species concentration are evaluated. Advantages in ventilation employing a certain inspiratory flow profile are offset by corresponding reduction in perfusion rates, leading to marginal effects on net gas exchange rates. The descending profile provides better CO2 exchange, whereas the ascending profile is more advantageous for O2 exchange. Regional disparities in airway/lung properties create maldistribution of ventilation and a concomitant inequality in regional alveolar gas composition and gas exchange rates. When minute ventilation is maintained constant, for identical time constant disparities, inequalities in compliance yield pronounced effects on net gas exchange rates at low frequencies, whereas the adverse effects of inequalities in resistance are more pronounced at higher frequencies. Reduction in expiratory air flow (via increased airway resistance) reduces the magnitude of upstroke slope of capnogram and oxigram time courses without significantly affecting end-tidal expired gas compositions, whereas alterations in mechanical factors that result in increased gas exchanges rates yield increases in CO2 and decreases in O2 end-tidal composition values. The model provides a template for assessing the dynamics of cardiopulmonary interactions during mechanical ventilation by combining concurrent descriptions of ventilation, capillary perfusion, and gas exchange.