We have examined the influence of local cooling from 35 to 19 degrees C on spontaneous arterial blood velocity fluctuations in the acral skin of thermoneutral subjects. The skin temperature of one hand was gradually lowered in a water bath in two separate experimental runs. Simultaneous continuous blood velocity was measured from the third finger artery of both hands using ultrasound-Doppler. The large blood velocity fluctuations assumed to be caused by synchronous vasomotion of the arteriovenous anastomoses were invariably seen in the control finger artery throughout the two cooling periods, indicating that the subjects were in their thermoneutral zone. The velocity fluctuations on the cooled side remained nearly unchanged and closely correlated with those in the control finger artery during local cooling from 35 to approximately 21.5 degrees C. Below this temperature (range 23-20 degrees C) the velocity fluctuations ceased abruptly, and the velocity was nonfluctuating and continuously low. These results indicate a local thermal level below which there is abrupt, sustained closure of the arteriovenous anastomoses.