In six dogs and six weight-matched miniature pigs at baseline and after pulmonary embolization, pulmonary arterial compliance was determined using the pulse pressure method (C(PPM)), the three-element windkessel model (C(WK-3)), and the ratio of stroke volume to pulse pressure (SV/PP). C(PPM) was lower in pigs than in dogs at baseline (0.72 +/- 0.23 vs. 1.14 +/- 0.29 ml/mmHg, P < 0.05) and after embolism (0.37 +/- 0.14 vs. 0.54 +/- 0.16 ml/mmHg, P = 0. 07) at matched flow, but not at matched flow and pressure. C(PPM) showed the expected inverse relation with pressure and a direct relation with flow. C(WK-3) was closely correlated with C(PPM), except for all dogs at baseline where C(WK-3) was up to 100% higher than C(PPM). Excluding these data, regression analysis yielded C(WK-3) = -0.01 + 1.30. C(PPM) (r(2) = 0.97). C(WK-3) was found to be unreliable when input impedance first harmonic modulus was close to characteristic impedance, i.e., when reflections were small. SV/PP correlated well with C(PPM) (SV/PP = -0.10 + 1.76. C(PPM), r(2) = 0.89). We conclude that 1) C(PPM) is a consistent estimate of pulmonary arterial compliance in pigs and dogs, 2) C(WK-3) and SV/PP overestimate compliance, and 3) C(WK-3) is unreliable when wave reflections are small.