PURPOSE: This study aimed at investigating the mechanisms underlying the oxygenation response to proning and recruitment maneuvers in coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pneumonia. METHODS: Twenty-five patients with COVID-19 pneumonia, at variable times since admission (from 1 to 3 weeks), underwent computed tomography (CT) lung scans, gas-exchange and lung-mechanics measurement in supine and prone positions at 5 cmH(2)O and during recruiting maneuver (supine, 35 cmH(2)O). Within the non-aerated tissue, we differentiated the atelectatic and consolidated tissue (recruitable and non-recruitable at 35 cmH(2)O of airway pressure). Positive/negative response to proning/recruitment was defined as increase/decrease of PaO(2)/FiO(2). Apparent perfusion ratio was computed as venous admixture/non aerated tissue fraction. RESULTS: The average values of venous admixture and PaO(2)/FiO(2) ratio were similar in supine-5 and prone-5. However, the PaO(2)/FiO(2) changes (increasing in 65% of the patients and decreasing in 35%, from supine to prone) correlated with the balance between resolution of dorsal atelectasis and formation of ventral atelectasis (p = 0.002). Dorsal consolidated tissue determined this balance, being inversely related with dorsal recruitment (p = 0.012). From supine-5 to supine-35, the apparent perfusion ratio increased from 1.38 ± 0.71 to 2.15 ± 1.15 (p = 0.004) while PaO(2)/FiO(2) ratio increased in 52% and decreased in 48% of patients. Non-responders had consolidated tissue fraction of 0.27 ± 0.1 vs. 0.18 ± 0.1 in the responding cohort (p = 0.04). Consolidated tissue, PaCO(2) and respiratory system elastance were higher in patients assessed late (all p < 0.05), suggesting, all together, "fibrotic-like" changes of the lung over time. CONCLUSION: The amount of consolidated tissue was higher in patients assessed during the third week and determined the oxygenation responses following pronation and recruitment maneuvers.