RATIONALE: Monitoring tidal cycle mechanics is key to lung protection. For this purpose, compliance and driving pressure of the respiratory system are often measured clinically using the plateau pressure, obtained after imposing an extended end-inspiratory pause, which allows for relaxation of the respiratory system and redistribution of inflation volume (method A). Alternative methods for estimating compliance and driving pressure utilize the measured pressure at the earliest instance of zero flow (method B), the inspiratory slope of the pressure-time tracing during inflation with constant flow (method C), and the expiratory time constant (method D). METHODS: Ten passive mechanically ventilated subjects, at a large tertiary referral center, underwent measurements of compliance and driving pressure using the four different methods. The inspiratory tidal volume, inspiratory to expiratory ratio, and positive end expiratory pressures were then adjusted from baseline and the measurements re-obtained. RESULTS: Method A yielded consistently higher compliance and lower driving pressure calculations compared to methods B and C. Methods B and C most closely approximated one another. Method D did not yield a consistent reliable pattern. CONCLUSION: Static measurements of compliance and driving pressure using the plateau pressure may underestimate the maximum pressure experienced by the most vulnerable lung units during dynamic inflation. Utilizing the pressure at zero flow as a static measurement, or the inspiratory slope as a dynamic measurement, may calculate a truer estimate of the maximum alveolar pressure that generates stress upon compromised lung units.