To establish whether continuous transcutaneous O2 and CO2 measurement in the recovery room is suitable for non-invasive monitoring of spontaneous respiration in patients newly operated upon, comparative transcutaneous and arterial pO2 and pCO2 investigations were carried out on 35 adults. There was a correlation coefficient of 0.66 between paO2 and tcpO2. The transcutaneous pO2 values measured were 45.3 mm Hg under the arterial values. When the transcutaneous CO2 values were compared with the arterial values, the correlation coefficient was 0.906. The mean transcutaneous pCO2 values measured lay around 0.7 mm Hg above the arterial values. On the basis of this slight deviation in CO2 values, the method appears to be suitable for continuous non-invasive determination of pCO2. The very large deviations in the O2 values indicate that transcutaneous measurement of oxygen partial pressure in this specific examination situation is not sufficiently reliable, which makes questionable the practice of using one piece of equipment for both measurements. In the clinical setting presented, transcutaneous O2 monitoring does not represent an alternative to close clinical observation and pulse oximetry.