The technique to repeatedly observe exactly the same vessels in the rat intestine was used to investigate vascular compensation during the 1st wk after abrupt arterial ligation. A collateral-dependent tissue region was created by ligation of three to four sequential intestinal arteries. At the center of the collateral-dependent region, arterial pressure decreased from 96 +/- 3.7 to 29 +/- 2.5 mmHg, and intestinal blood flow fell approximately 80% during maximal dilation initially postligation. One week later, pressure and blood flow at the center had increased 31 and 250%, respectively. Relative to preligation values, the only compensatory adaptation was an enlargement (31 +/- 11%) of the collateral arteries located between normal tissue and the center; no increase was observed in the diameter or numbers of arterioles or collateral arteries at the center. Wall shear rate was increased 173 +/- 35% initially postligation at the site where luminal enlargement occurred. The selective enlargement of collateral arteries away from the center region is consistent with the hypothesis that collateral enlargement is induced by chronic increases in wall shear rate and can occur independently of tissue ischemia.