In this study we evaluated on-line continuous blood sampling in a femoral arteriovenous (a-v) shunt for use in quantitative tracer studies using gamma-emitting radionuclides in animals. The shunt consisted of 40 cm polyethylene tubing (PE-50) guided through a coincidence probe. Two three-way valves allowed blood pressure measurements and tracer injection. Blood flow in the shunt and the impulse response function (IRF) were assessed using heparinized human blood mixed with fluorine-18 fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG). In vivo experiments were performed in eight male rats (300-350 g) anaesthetized with halothane. In three rats, manual blood sampling was performed in parallel with on-line sampling. In another five animals, the arterial whole blood activity was recorded on-line for 40 min. For the experiments 150-180 MBq FDG was injected over 35 s. Blood flow in the shunt was 23.6, 29.2 and 42.8 ml/h at 100, 120 and 160 mmHg, respectively. The IRF was characterized by minimal dispersion (1-2 s FWHM). Deconvolution of the measured arterial input curves with the IRF changed the measured curve only minimally. Whole blood radioactivity concentration derived from manual and on-line sampling were in excellent agreement. The curves derived from on-line sampling were of high statistical quality. In conclusion, a femoral a-v shunt allows multiple manipulations such as measurement of the arterial whole blood activity, continuous blood pressure monitoring, injection of the tracer and collection of blood samples if necessary. It is not associated with blood loss if the collection of blood samples is not required. It is more convenient to use than manual sampling, the peak of the input curve is never missed and the input curves are of high statistical quality.