The effect of the detergent dioctyl sodium sulfosuccinate on pulmonary extravascular water volume (PEWV) was studied in adult anesthetized mongrel dogs. The detergent was dissolved as a 1% solution in a vehicle of equal volumes of 95% ethanol and normal saline and administered by ultrasonic nebulizer attached to the inspiratory tubing of a piston ventilator. Two hours following detergent aerosol PEWV measured gravimetrically was increased compared with either animals receiving no aerosol or those receiving an aerosol of vehicle alone. Loss of surfactant activity and increased alveolar surface tension were demonstrated by Wilhelmy balance studies of minced lung extracts, by a fall in static compliance, and by evidence of atelectasis and instability noted by gross observation and by in vivo microscopy. No significant changes in colloid oncotic pressure or pulmonary microvascular hydrostatic pressure were observed. These data suggest that pulmonary edema can be induced by increased alveolar surface tension and support the concept that one of the major roles of pulmonary surfactant is to prevent pulmonary edema.