The study aim was to establish how recruitment maneuvers (RMs) influence lung mechanics and to determine whether RMs produce lung injury. Healthy BALB/c mice were allocated to receive positive end-expiratory pressure (PEEP) at 2 or 6 cmH(2)O and volume- (20 or 40 mL/kg) or pressure-controlled (25 cmH(2)O) RMs every 5 or 75 min for 150 min. The low-frequency forced oscillation technique was used to measure respiratory input impedance. Large RMs resulting in peak airway opening pressures (P(ao))>30 cmH(2)O did not increase inflammatory response or affect transcutaneous oxygen saturation but significantly lowered airway resistance, tissue damping and tissue elastance; the latter changes are likely associated with the bimodal pressure-volume behavior observed in mice. PEEP increase alone and application of RMs producing peak P(ao) below 25 cmH(2)O did not prevent or reverse changes in lung mechanics; whereas frequent application of substantial RMs on top of elevated PEEP levels produced stable lung mechanics without signs of lung injury.