The influence of lactic acid, hydrochloric acid, and sodium lactate addition (10 mmol/l each) on oxylabile CO2 was investigated in blood of male subjects after equilibration at 37 degrees C with 3, 6, and 10% CO2 in N2 and O2, respectively. The total CO2, pH in whole blood and erythrocytes, oxygen saturation, hemoglobin concentration, and hematocrit value were measured. With these data we calculated bicarbonate and carbamate concentrations and the corresponding differences between oxygenated and deoxygenated blood. The amount of oxylabile bicarbonate was not systematically influenced by the various experimental conditions. The carbamate content, however, was larger in deoxygenated than in oxygenated blood (up to 0.08 mol/mol hemoglobin) only in the absence of lactate. In the presence of lactic acid as well as sodium lactate, the carbamate content in oxygenated blood was higher by 0.06–0.13 mol/mol hemoglobin than in deoxygenated blood. The lactate effect even increased after 2,3-diphosphoglycerate depletion. We suggest, therefore, a competition between CO2 and the lactate ion at the NH2-terminal valine of the beta-globin chain in deoxygenated hemoglobin.