Respiratory decompression sickness (RDCS, “the chokes”) is a potentially lethal consequence of ambient pressure reduction. Lack of a clearly suitable animal model has impeded understanding of this condition. RDCS, unaccompanied by central nervous system signs, occurred in 17 of 18 unanesthetized sheep exposed to compressed air at 230 kPa (2.27 ATA) for 22 h, returned to normal pressure for approximately 40 min, and taken to simulated altitude (0.75 ATA, 570 Torr). Respiratory signs, including tachypnea, sporadic apnea, and labored breathing, were accompanied by precordial Doppler ultrasound evidence of marked venous bubble loading. Pulmonary arterial pressures exceeded 30 Torr in five catheterized sheep that died or became moribund. Hypoxemia (arterial Po2 less than 40 Torr), neutropenia, and thrombocytopenia were observed. Peribronchovascular edema was the most prominent necropsy finding. Chest radiography indicated interstitial edema in most affected sheep. High body weight and catheterization predisposed the sheep to severe RDCS. It appears that this protocol reliably provides a useful animal model for studies of RDCS and obstructive pulmonary hypertension, that the precipitating event is massive pulmonary embolization by bubbles, and that venous bubbles, detected by Doppler ultrasound, can signal impending RDCS.