The parabrachial complex, also known as the pneumotaxic center or pontine respiratory group, has long been recognized as an important participant in respiratory control. One line of evidence supporting this idea is the demonstration of changes in breathing pattern following injection of neuroactive substances into or near the parabrachial complex. However, it is not yet known exactly which cell groups and projections mediate those responses. In order to address this issue, we explored the topographic organization of respiratory responses to chemical stimulation of the parabrachial complex of the rat and examined the descending projections of the most sensitive sites. Injection of glutamate (5–100 pmol) at specific sites in or near the parabrachial nucleus produced three distinct site-specific response patterns. First, hyperpnea followed glutamate injection into far rostral and midcaudal areas of the Kolliker-Fuse nucleus and most of the lateral parabrachial nucleus, including the external lateral, central lateral, dorsal lateral, and superior lateral subnuclei. Threshold hyperpneic effects were manifested as single, deepened breaths of premature onset. Suprathreshold doses of glutamate at these locations produced tachypnea. Neurons in these sites projected to the ventral respiratory group in the ventrolateral medulla. Second, the most intense inspiratory facilitatory responses were seen at mid to rostral levels of the Kolliker-Fuse nucleus, near the ventrolateral tip of the superior cerebellar peduncle. Even at threshold doses of glutamate, exhalation was incomplete, resulting in a breathing pattern that resembled apneusis (an inspiratory cramp). This site contained an especially dense cluster of neurons that projected either to the ventrolateral medulla or to the dorsal respiratory group in the nucleus of the solitary tract, but not to both areas. The third type of response, decreases in respiratory rate, occurred following glutamate injection at the most lateral and ventral boundaries of the Kolliker- Fuse nucleus. The most sensitive apneic sites were not found in the parabrachial nucleus but along the dorsal and medial edge of the principal sensory trigeminal nucleus and extending ventrally between the sensory and motor trigeminal nuclei. Scattered neurons in these sites were retrogradely labeled from the ventral but not the dorsal respiratory group. These results indicate that there are anatomically and functionally distinct cell populations in and near the parabrachial complex that, when chemically stimulated, can produce specific and sometimes opposing effects on respiration. The predominant effect of lateral parabrachial stimulation is respiratory facilitation, while inhibitory effects are elicited by trigeminal injections of glutamate.