Regional cerebral blood flow (CBF) was measured in isoflurane-anesthetized turtles (Pseudemys scripta) by the hydrogen clearance method. Teflon-coated platinum electrodes (25 microns) were implanted in the olfactory bulbs, midcerebral cortex and cerebellum in eight adult turtles. The electrodes were voltage clamped at +0.30 V relative to a Ag-AgCl electrode implanted in the dorsal neck muscles. Washout kinetics of H2 gas administered via controlled ventilation was used to calculate local blood flow for electrodes exhibiting monoexponential washout kinetics of hydrogen (92 of 104 determinations). Data were obtained in animals with body temperatures of 15, 25, and 35 degrees C under normocapnic conditions during ventilation with 21% O2 and during ventilation with 100% N2. During normoxia, mean blood flows were 1.9 +/- 0.8, 5.0 +/- 1.9, and 6.1 +/- 1.3 (+/- SD) ml.100 g-1.min-1 at 15, 25, and 35 degrees C, respectively. There were no differences between CBF values in the different brain regions. During 1-3 h of anoxia, CBF was 3.0 +/- 2.1, 7.0 +/- 3.7, and 6.6 +/- 2.9 ml.100 g-1.min-1 at 15, 25, and 35 degrees C, respectively (normoxia-anoxia difference not statistically different). Hypercarbia (ventilation with 10-20% CO2 in air or N2), or the transition from anoxia to normoxia, increased CBF up to 80% at each of these temperatures. Maintenance of CBF during anoxia likely contributes to the anoxia tolerance of the turtle brain.