Long-term neurochemical changes are responsible for therapeutic actions of fluoxetine. The role of increased central concentration of serotonin by inhibiting its re-uptake via fluoxetine on the central hypercapnic ventilatory response is complex and little is known. We aimed to research the effect of acute intracerebroventricular (ICV) injection of fluoxetine on hypercapnic ventilatory response in the absence of peripheral chemoreceptor impulses and the role of 5-HT(2) receptors on responses. Eighteen anesthetized albino rabbits were divided as Fluoxetine and Ketanserin groups. For ICV administration of fluoxetine and ketanserin, a cannula was placed in the left lateral ventricle by the stereotaxic method. Respiratory frequency (f(R)), tidal volume (V(T)) and ventilation minute volume (V(E)) were recorded in both groups. ICV fluoxetine (10.12 mmol/kg) injection during normoxia caused significant increases in V(T) and V(E) (both P < 0.01) in the fluoxetine group. When the animals were switched to hypercapnia f(/min), V(T) and V(E) increased significantly. The increases in percentage values in V(T) and V(E) in Fluoxetine + Hypercapnia phase were higher than those during hypercapnia alone (P < 0.01 and P < 0.05, respectively). On blocking of 5-HT(2) receptors by ketanserin (0.25 mmol/kg), the ventilatory response to Fluoxetine was abolished and the degree of increases in V(T) and V(E) in the Ketanserin + Hypercapnia phase were lower than those during hypercapnia alone (P < 0.01 and P < 0.001, respectively). We concluded that acute central fluoxetine increases normoxic ventilation and also augments the stimulatory effect of hypercapnia on respiratory neuronal network by 5-HT(2) receptors in the absence of peripheral chemoreceptor impulses.