Chronically hypoxic humans and some mammals have attenuated ventilatory responses, which have been associated with high dopamine level in carotid bodies. Alveolar hypoventilation and blunted ventilatory response have been recognized to be at the basis of Chronic Mountain Sickness by generating arterial hypoxemia and polycythemia. To investigate whether dopamine antagonism could decrease the hemoglobin concentration by stimulating resting ventilation (VE) and/or hypoxic ventilatory response, 18 chronically hypoxic rats (5 weeks, PB=433 Torr) were studied with and without domperidone treatment (a peripheral dopamine antagonist). Acute and prolonged treatment significantly increased poikilocapnic ventilatory response to hypoxia (RVE ml/min/kg=VE at 0.1 FI(O(2))-VE at 0.21 FI(O(2))), from 506+/-36 to 697+/-48; and from 394+/-37 to 660+/-81, respectively. In addition, Domperidone treatment decreased hemoglobin concentration from 21.6+/-0.29 to 18.9+/-0.19 (P<0.01) in rats chronically exposed to hypobaric hypoxia. Our study suggests that the stimulant effect of D(2)-R blockade on ventilatory response to hypoxia seems to compensate the low hypoxic peripheral chemosensitivity after chronic exposure and the latter in turn decrease hemoglobin concentration.