Recently we have studied the direct vasomotor response of the hindlimb extramuscular large arteries (internal diameter, 500-1400 microm) and intramuscular small arteries (internal diameter, 50-500 microm) of in vivo thick skeletal muscle during activation of sympathetic cholinergic nerve in anesthetized cats. The hypothalamic defense area was electrically stimulated so as to induce a profound increase in femoral blood flow mediated by sympathetic cholinergic fibers. To visualize the vascular arrangement from the extramuscular large feeding arteries to small arteries in the triceps surae muscle, we developed a new X-ray TV system. The internal diameter, flow velocity, and volume flow of arterial blood vessels were directly measured before and during stimulation of the hypothalamic defense area. The major new finding is that the hypothalamic stimulation causes an intense increase in the internal diameter of small arteries in skeletal muscle, which is abolished either by cholinergic blockade or by the section of the sciatic nerve, but not by combined alpha- and beta-adrenergic blockade. In contrast, the internal diameter of the extramuscular larger arteries does not change during the hypothalamic stimulation, but their flow velocity and volume flow increase. These findings indicate that sympathetic cholinergic vasodilation occurs at intramuscular small arteries with internal diameter of 50-500 microm, which in turn increases flow velocity and volume flow of upstream blood vessels.