The possible significance of thyroid mast cells in the regulation of thyroid blood flow and capillary permeability was investigated in rats whose TSH secretion had been eliminated by exogenous T4. Mast cells were identified by their abundance of metachromatic granules, and their content of histamine and 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) was examined by fluorescence histochemistry. Thyroid histamine levels were determined by fluorometry. The tissue uptake of 86Rb was used as an indicator of blood flow and permeability. Numerous histamine- and 5-HT-containing mast cells were found within the thyroid and in connective tissue adjacent to the thyroid, whereas juxtathyroidal muscle tissue was virtually devoid of mast cells. Administration of compound 48/80 evoked a prompt depletion of 5-HT, histamine and metachromatic granules from thyroid mast cells, and a concomitant increase in the thyroidal uptake of 86Rb. The 86Rb uptake by juxtathyroidal muscle tissue was unaffected. Exogenous 5-HT and histamine both induced prompt increments in thyroidal 86Rb uptake, and 5-HT also stimulated 86Rb uptake in juxtathyroidal muscle tissue. TSH, previously shown to induce a gradual amine release from mast cells within, but not outside, the thyroid, evoked a gradual increase in thyroidal, but not in muscular, uptake of 86Rb. The findings support the concept that, in the rat, histamine and/or 5-HT, released from intrathyroidal mast cells by TSH, stimulate thyroid blood flow and/or permeability.