OBJECTIVE: Systemic PaO2 oscillations occur during cyclic recruitment and derecruitment of atelectasis in acute respiratory failure and might harm brain tissue integrity. DESIGN: Controlled animal study. SETTING: University research laboratory. SUBJECTS: Adult anesthetized pigs. INTERVENTIONS: Pigs were randomized to a control group (anesthesia and extracorporeal circulation for 20 hr with constant PaO2, n = 10) or an oscillation group (anesthesia and extracorporeal circulation for 20 hr with artificial PaO2 oscillations [3 cycles min⁻¹], n = 10). Five additional animals served as native group (n = 5). MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: Outcome following exposure to artificial PaO2 oscillations compared with constant PaO2 levels was measured using 1) immunohistochemistry, 2) real-time polymerase chain reaction for inflammatory markers, 3) receptor autoradiography, and 4) transcriptome analysis in the hippocampus. Our study shows that PaO2 oscillations are transmitted to brain tissue as detected by novel ultrarapid oxygen sensing technology. PaO2 oscillations cause significant decrease in NISSL-stained neurons (p < 0.05) and induce inflammation (p < 0.05) in the hippocampus and a shift of the balance of hippocampal neurotransmitter receptor densities toward inhibition (p < 0.05). A pathway analysis suggests that cerebral immune and acute-phase response may play a role in mediating PaO2 oscillation-induced brain injury. CONCLUSIONS: Artificial PaO2 oscillations cause mild brain injury mediated by inflammatory pathways. Although artificial PaO2 oscillations and endogenous PaO2 oscillations in lung-diseased patients have different origins, it is likely that they share the same noxious effect on the brain. Therefore, PaO2 oscillations might represent a newly detected pathway potentially contributing to the crosstalk between acute lung and remote brain injury.