We examined the relationship between changes in abdominal cross-sectional area, measured by respiratory inductive plethysmography, and changes in length in the costal and crural parts of the diaphragm, measured by sonomicrometry, in nine supine, anesthetized dogs. During passive inflation, both parts of the diaphragm shortened and abdominal cross-sectional area increased. During passive deflation, both parts of the diaphragm lengthened and abdominal cross-sectional area decreased. We subsequently used the relationship between costal and crural diaphragmatic length, respectively, and abdominal cross-sectional area during passive inflation-deflation to predict the length changes in the costal and crural diaphragm during quiet breathing before and after bilateral phrenicotomy. In the intact animal the inspiratory shortening in the crural diaphragm was almost invariably greater than predicted from the relationship during passive inflation. During inspiration after phrenicotomy the crural diaphragm invariably lengthened, whereas the costal diaphragm often shortened. In general there was a good correlation between the measured and predicted length change for the crural diaphragm (r = 0.72 before and 0.79 after phrenicotomy) and a poor one for the costal diaphragm (r = 0.05 before and 0.19 after phrenicotomy).