The effect of intracarotid injection of serotonin (5-HT) on internal carotid artery flow and oxygen availability (O2a) of the cerebral cortex was studied in 10 baboons. Vasoconstriction occurred in the vascular bed of the territory supplied by the injected artery. After one middle cerebral artery was occluded the vasoconstrictor effect of 5-HT was more pronounced, particularly in the non-ischaemic hemisphere. The capacity of the cerebral vessels to provide collateral blood flow was reduced in both ischaemic and non-ischaemic areas of brain. As a result of focal cerebral ischaemia, 5-HT may accumulate in the brain and contribute to the progression of infarction.