We measured the effects of exposure to hypoxia (15% and 11% oxygen) and hypercapnia (up to 4.5% carbon dioxide) on rates of respiratory gas exchange both between and during dives in tufted ducks, Aythya fuligula, to investigate to what extent these may explain changes in diving behaviour. As found in previous studies, the ducks decreased dive duration (t(d)) and increased surface duration when diving from a hypoxic or hypercapnic gas mix. In the hypercapnic conditions, oxygen consumption during the dive cycle was not affected. Oxygen uptake between dives was reduced by only 17% when breathing a hypoxic gas mix of 11% oxygen. However, estimates of the rate of oxygen metabolism during the foraging periods of dives decreased nearly threefold in 11% oxygen. Given that tufted ducks normally dive well within their aerobic dive limits and that they significantly reduced their t(d) during hypoxia, it is not at all clear why they make this physiological adjustment.