BACKGROUND: Sleep apnea syndrome, which occurs in 1-4% of the adult population, frequently has different cardiovascular complications such as hypertension, ischemic heart disease, cardiac arrythmia as well as sleep-wake disorder such as excessive daytime hypersomnolence or insomnia. Mortality and vascular morbidity are reported to be significantly higher in sleep apnea syndrome patients than in normal population. According to the recent studies, autonomic dysfunction as well as hypoxemia, hypercapneic acidosis, and increased respiratory effort, may play a role in the high prevalence of cardiovascular complications in patients with sleep apnea syndrome. However the cause and mechanism of autonomic neuropathy in patients with sleep apnea syndrome are not well understood. We studied the existence of autonomic neuropathy in patients with sleep apnea syndrome and factors which influence the pathogenesis of autonomic neuropathy. METHOD: We used the cardiovascular autonomic neuropathy(CAN) test as a method for evaluation of autonomic neuropathy. The subjects of this study were 20 patients who diagnosed sleep apnea syndrome by polysomnography and 15 persons who were normal by polysomnography. RESULTS: Body mass index and resting systolic blood pressure were higher in sleep apnea group than control group. Apnea index(AI), respiratory disturbance index(RDI) and snoring time percentage were significanfly higher in sleep apnea group compared with control group. But there were no significant differences in saturation of oxygen and sleep efficiency in two groups. In the cardiac autonomic neuropathy test, the valsalva ratio was significantly low in sleep apnea group compared with control group but other tests had no differences between two groups. The CAN scores and corrected QT(QTc) interval were calculated significantly higher in sleep apnea group, but there were no significant correlations between CAN scores and QTc intervaL There were no significant data of polysomnography to correlate to the CAN score. It meant that the autonomic neuropathy in patients with sleep apnea was affected by other multiple factors. CONCLUSION: The cardiovascular autonomic neuropathy test was a useful method for the evaluation of autonomic neuropathy in patients with sleep apnea syndrome and abnormalities of cardiovascular autonomic neuropathy were observed in patients with sleep apnea syndrome. However, we failed to define the factors that influence the pathogenesis of autonomic neuropathy of sleep apnea syndrome. This study warrants futher investigations in order to define the pathogenesis of autonomic neuropathy in patients with sleep apnea syndrome.