The proper functioning of any smooth muscle requires adequate perfusion with oxygen and nutrients. Ischemia compromises both these factors and results in dysfunction, the extent depending on the degree and duration of ischemia. This study determined the effects of one, two and four weeks in vivo ischemia on the capacity, compliance and contractile function of the rabbit urinary bladder. Morphological changes were also studied with light microscopy. Different degrees of ischemia were achieved as follows. In the unilateral group the vesical artery was tied on one side and the animals were sacrificed at one week or two weeks. In the bilateral group the vesical arteries on both sides were tied and the animals were sacrificed one week later. In the bilateral staged group the vesical artery was tied on one side and after one week the contralateral artery was ligated, and the animals sacrificed one week after the second procedure. Muscle strips were studied for contractile response, with a distinction being made between the ipsilateral and contralateral side of vessel ligation in the unilateral group. The results were as follows. 1) In the unilateral group there was a 72% reduction in the contractile response of the dome of the bladder to bethanecol on the side of vessel ligation and a 32% reduction on the contralateral side. The response to methoxamine on the base was reduced by 44%, with no difference between the ipsilateral and contralateral side. 2) Bilateral vessel ligation resulted in a 97% reduction in contractile response to bethanechol on the dome and a 75% in the response of the base to methoxamine. 3) Staged bilateral ligation resulted in a 69% reduction in the contractile response of the dome to bethanechol and a 18% reduction in the response of the base to methoxamine. Ischemia caused a marked reduction in the compliance and capacity of the bladder in all the three groups, with the most marked changes in the bilateral group. Multiple spontaneous contractions were noted in the three groups during the filling phase of the cystometrograms. Histological features correlated well with the functional changes in the different groups.