The filtration coefficient (Kfc) is a sensitive measure of microvascular hydraulic conductivity and has been reported for the alveolar lungs of many mammalian species, but not for the parabronchial avian lung. This study reports the Kfc in the isolated lungs of normal chickens and in the lungs of chickens given the edemogenic agents oleic acid (OA) or dimethyl amiloride (DMA). The control Kfc =0.04+/-0.01 ml min(-1) kPa(-1) g(-1). This parameter increased significantly following the administration of both OA (0.12+/-0.02 ml min(-1) kPa(-1) g(-1)) and DMA (0.07+/-0.01 ml min kPa(-1) g(-1)). As endothelial cadherins are thought to play a role in the dynamic response to acute lung injury, we utilized Western blot analysis to assess lung cadherin content and Northern blot analysis to assess pulmonary vascular endothelial (VE) cadherin expression following drug administration. Lung cadherin content decreases markedly following DMA, but not OA administration. VE cadherin expression increases as a result of DMA treatment, but is unchanged following OA. Our results suggest that the permeability characteristics of the avian lung are more closely consistent with those of the mammalian rather than the reptilian lung, and, that cadherins may play a significant role in the response to acute increases in avian pulmonary microvascular permeability.