Estimation of ventilation-perfusion (V̇A/Q̇) inequality by the multiple inert gas elimination technique requires knowledge of arterial, mixed venous, and mixed expired concentrations of six gases. Until now, arterial concentrations have been directly measured and mixed venous levels either measured or calculated by mass balance if cardiac output was known. Because potential applications of the method involve measurements over several days, we wished to determine whether inert gas levels in peripheral venous blood ever reached those in arterial blood, thus providing an essentially noninvasive approach to measuring V̇A/Q̇ mismatch that could be frequently repeated. In 10 outpatients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, we compared radial artery (Pa) and peripheral vein (Pven) levels of the six gases over a 90-min period of infusion of the gases into a contralateral forearm vein. We found Pven reached 90% of Pa by ~50 min and 95% of Pa by 90 min. More importantly, the coefficient of variation at 50 min was ~10% and at 90 min 5%, demonstrating acceptable intersubject agreement by 90 min. Since cardiac output is not available without arterial access, we also examined the consequences of assuming values for this variable in calculating mixed venous levels. We conclude that V̇A/Q̇ features of considerable clinical interest can be reliably identified by this essentially noninvasive approach under resting conditions stable over a period of 1.5 h.