The goal of the study was to define the major arterial parameters that determine aortic systolic (Ps) and diastolic (Pd) pressure in the dog. Measured aortic flows were used as input to the two-element windkessel model of the arterial system, with peripheral resistance calculated as mean pressure over mean flow and total arterial compliance calculated from the decay time in diastole. The windkessel model yielded an aortic pressure wave from which we obtained the predicted systolic (Ps, wk) and diastolic (Pd, wk) pressure. These predicted pressures were compared with the measured systolic and diastolic pressures. The measurements and calculations were carried out in 7 dogs in control conditions, during aortic occlusion at four locations (the trifurcation, between trifurcation and diaphragm, the diaphragm and the proximal descending thoracic aorta) and during occlusion of both carotid arteries. Under all conditions studied the predicted systolic and diastolic pressure matched the experimental ones very well: Ps, wk = (1.000 +/- 0.0055) Ps with r = 0.958 and Pd, wk = (1.024 +/- 0.0035) Pd with r = 0.995. Linear regression for pulse pressure gave PPwk = (0.99 +/- 0.016) PP (r = 0.911). We found the accuracy of prediction equally good under control conditions and in presence of aortic or carotid artery occlusions. Multiple regression between pulse pressure and arterial resistance and total arterial compliance yielded a poor regression constant (r2 = 0.19) suggesting that the two arterial parameters alone cannot explain pulse pressure and that flow is an important determinant as well. We conclude that, for a given ejection pattern (aortic flow), two arterial parameters, total arterial resistance and total arterial compliance are sufficient to accurately describe systolic and diastolic aortic pressure.