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Students often have difficulty understanding the relationship of O2 consumption, CO2 production, cardiac output, and distribution of ventilation-perfusion ratios in the lung to the final arterial blood gas composition. To overcome this difficulty, I have developed an interactive computer simulation of pulmonary gas exchange that is web based and allows the student to vary multiple factors simultaneously and observe the final effect on the arterial blood gas composition (available at www.siumed.edu/medicine/pulm/vqmodeling.htm). In this article, the underlying mathematics of the computer model is presented, as is the teaching strategy. The simulation is applied to a typical clinical case drawn from the intensive care unit to demonstrate the interdependence of the above factors as well as the less-appreciated importance of the Bohr and Haldane effects in clinical pulmonary medicine. The use of a computer to vary the many interacting factors involved in the arterial blood gas composition appeals to today's students and demonstrates the importance of basic physiology to the actual practice of medicine.
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