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Valuable clinical and physiological data concerning the function of the cardiopulmonary system can be obtained from continuous monitoring of hemoglobin oxygen saturation (SaO2), oxygen tension (PO2), and carbon dioxide tension (PCO2) in blood. While periodic blood sampling is still used clinically to determine arterial blood gases, it is becoming apparent that the recent introduction of continuous noninvasive monitoring of blood gases can offer many advantages. This paper discusses the historical development and significant accomplishments of various techniques available for transcutaneous blood gas monitoring. Four major areas are reviewed: electrochemistry, spectrophotometry, mass spectrometry, and gas chromatography. For each of these techniques, the theoretical basis, instrumentation, and clinical applications are discussed.